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ITnt (r^>^. I 


Harvard CoUege 

03 og 


Sarah Orne Jewett 



Theodore Jewett Eastman 

A.B. 1901 - M.D. 1905 



Edited by Lewis Einstein 










-^ i S ^ y . / 



Copyright, 1907, by D. B. Updike 


Introducflion ix 

Against War 





which the earliest English trans- 
lation is here reprinted, was a- 
mong the most famous writings 
of the most illustrious writer of 
his age. Few people now read 
Erasmus; he has become £br the world in general 
a somewhat vague name. Only by some effort of 
the historical imagination is it possible for those 
who are not professed scholars and students to 
realize the enormous force which he was at a cri- 
tical period in the history of civilization. The free 
institutions and the material progress of the mo- 
dem world have alike their roots in humanism. 
Humanism as a movement of the human mind 
culminated in the age, and even in a sense in the 
person, of Erasmus. Its brilliant flower was of an 
earlier period ; its fruits developed and matured 
later ; but it was in his time, and in him, that the 
fruit set. The earlier sixteenth century is not so 
romantic as its predecessors, nor so rich in solid 
achievement as others that have followed it. As 
in some orchard when spring is over, the blossom 
lies withered on the grass, and the fruit has long to 
wait before it can ripen on the boughs. Yet here. 


Intro- in the dull, hot midsummer days, is the central 
dudlion and critical period of the year's growth. 

The life of Erasmus is accessible in many po- 
pular forms as well as in more learned and for- 
mal works. To recapitulate it here would fall be- 
yond the scope of a preface. But in order to ap- 
preciate this treatise Rilly it is necessary to realize 
the time and circumstances in which it appeared, 
and to recall some of the main features of its au- 
thor's life and work up to the date of its compo- 

That date can be fixed with certainty, from a 
combination of external and internal evidence, 
between the years 1513 and 151 j; in all probability 
it was the winter of i J14-1 j- It was printed in the lat- 
ter year, in the "editio princeps" of the enlarged 
and rewritten Adagia then issued from Froben s 
great printing-works at Basel. The stormy de- 
cennate of Pope Julius II had ended in February, 
1513. To his successor, Giovanni de' Medici, who 
succeeded to the papal throne under the name 
of Leo X, the treatise is particularly addressed. 
The years which ensued were a time singularly 
momentous in the history of religion, of letters, 
and of the whole life of the civilized world. The 
eulogy of Leo with which Erasmus ends indi-. 
cates the hopes then entertained of a new Au- 
gustan age of peace and reconciliation. The Re- 
formation was still capable of being regarded as 
an internal and constructive force, within the 

framework of the society built up by the Middle Intro- 
Ages. The final divorce between humanism and ducflion 
the Church had not yet been made. The long and 
disastrous epoch of the wars of religion was still 
only a dark cloud on the horizon. The Renaissance 
was really dead, but few yet realized the facfl. 
The new head of the Church was a lover of peace, 
a friend of scholars, a munificent patron of the 
arts. This treatise shows that Erasmus, to a certain 
extent, shared or strove to share in an illusion 
widely spread among the educated classes of Eu- 
rope. With a far keener instincfl for that which the 
souls of men required, an Augustinian monk from 
Wittenberg, who had visited Rome two years 
earlier, had turned away from the temple where 
a corpse lay swathed in gold and half hid in the 
steam of incense. With «a far keener insight into 
the real state of things, Machiavelli was, at just 
this time, composing The Prince. 

In one form or anorfier, the subjecfl of his impas- 
sioned pleading for peace among beings human, 
civilized, and Christian, had been long in Eras- 
mus's mind. In his most celebrated single work, 
the Praise of Folly, he had bitterly attacked the 
attitude towards war habitual, and evilly conse- 
crated by usage, among kings and popes. The 
same argument had formed the substance of a do- 
cument addressed by him, under the title of Anti- 
Polemus, to Pope Julius in IJ07. Much of the sub- 
stance, much even of the phraseology of that ear- 


Intro- Her work is doubtless repeated here. Beyond the 
ducftion specific reference to Pope Leo, the other notes of 
time in the treatise now before lis are few and faint. 
Allusions to Louis XII of France (1498-151^), to 
Ferdinand the Catholic (1479-1516), to Philip, king 
of Aragon (1504-1516), and Sigismund, king of Po- 
land (1506-1548), are all consistent with the com- 
position of the treatise some years earlier. At 
the end of it he promises to treat of the matter 
more largely when he publishes the Anti-Pole- 
mus. But this intention was never carried into ef- 
fecfl. Perhaps Erasmus had become convinced of 
its futility; for the events of the years which fol- 
lowed soon showed that the new Augustan age 
was but a false dawn over which night settled 
more stormily and profoundly than before. 

For ten or a dozen years Erasmus had stood at 
'the head of European scholarship. His name was 
as famous in France and England as in the Low 
Countries and Germany. The age was indeed one 
of those in which the much-abused term of the 
republic of letters had a real and vital mean- 
ing. The nationalities of modem Europe had al- 
ready formed themselves ; the notion of the Em- 
pire had become obsolete, and if the imperial 
title was still coveted by princes, it was under no 
illusion as to the amount of efFedlive supremacy 
which it carried with it, or as to any life yet re- 
maining in the mediaeval docflrineof the unity of 

Christendom whether as a church or as a state. 



The discovery of the new world near the end of Intro- 
the previous century precipitated a revolution dudlion 
in European politics towards which events had 
long be^n moving, and finally broke up the po- 
litical framework of the Middle Ages. But the 
other great event of the same period, the inven- 
tion and diffusion of the art of printing, had creat- 
ed a new European commonwealth of the mind. 
The history of the century which followed it is 
a history in which the landmarks are found less 
in battles and treaties than in books. 

The earlier life of the man who occupies the 
central place in the literary and spiritual move- 
ment of his time in no important way differs from 
the youth of many contemporary scholars and 
writers. Even the illegitimacy of his birth was an 
accident shared with so many others that it does 
not mark him out in any way from his fellows. 
His early education at Utrecht, at Deventer, at 
Herzogenbosch ; his enforced and unhappy no- 
vitiate in a house of Augustinian canons near 
Gouda; his secretaryship to the bishop of Cam- 
bray, the grudging patron who allowed rather 
than assisted him to complete his training at the 
Universityof Paris— all this was at the time mere 
matter of common form. It is with his arrival in 
England in 1497, at the age of thirty-one, that his 
effedlive life really begins. 

For the next twenty years that life was one of 

restless movement and incessant production. In 



Intro- England, France, the Low Countries, on the up- 
ducftion per Rhine, and in Italy, he flitted about gather- 
ing up the whole intelledlual movement of the 
age, and pouring forth the results in that admi- 
rable Latin which was not only the common lan- 
guage of scholars in every country, but the single 
language in which he himself thought instinc- 
tively and wrote freely. Between the Adagia of 
1500 and the Colloquia of 1516 comes a mass of 
writings equivalent to the total produdt of many 
fertile and industrious pens. He worked in the 
cause of humanism with a sacred fiiry , striving 
with all his might to connedl it with all that was 
living in the old and all that was developing in 
the newer world. In his travels no less than in his 
studies the aspedt of war must have perpetually 
met him as at once the cause and the effedl of bar- 
barism ; it was the symbol of everything to which 
humanism in its broader as well as in its narrower 
aspedt was utterly opposed and repugnant. He 
was a student at Paris in the ominous year of the 
first French invasion of Italy, in which the death 
of Pico della Mirandola and Politian came like a 
symbol of the death of the Italian Renaissance it- 
self. Charles VIII, as has often been said, brought 
back the Renaissance to France from that expe- 
dition; but he brought her back a captive chained 
to the wheels of his cannon. The epoch of the Ital- 
ian wars began. A little later (ijoo) Sandro Botti- 
celli painted that amazing Nativity which is one 


of the chief treasures of the London National Gal- Intro- 
lery. Over it in mystical Greek may still be read dudlion 
the painter's own words: "This pidlure was paint- 
ed by me Alexander amid the confusions of 
Italy at the time prophesied in the Second Woe 
of the Apocalypse, when Satan shall be loosed 
upon the earth." In November, 1506, Erasmus 
was at Bologna, and saw the triumphal entry of 
Pope Julius into the city at th6 head of a great 
mercenary army. Two years later the league of 
Cambray, a combination of folly, treachery and 
shame which filled even hardened politicians 
with horror, plunged half Europe into a war in 
which no one was a gainer and which finally 
ruined Italy: " bellum quo nullum," says the his- 
torian, "vel atrocius vel diutumius in Italia post 
exadlos Gothos majores nostri meminerunt." In 
England Erasmus found, on his first visit, a coun- 
try exhausted by the long and desperate strug- 
gle of the Wars of the Roses, out of which she 
had emerged with half her ruling class killed in 
battle or on the scaffold, and the whole fabric of 
society to reconstrudl. The Empire was in a state 
of confusion and turmoil no less deplorable and 
much more extensive. The Diet of 149J had in- 
deed, by an expiring effort towards the suppres- 
sion of absolute anarchy, decreed the abolition 
of private war. But in a society where every own- 
er of a castle, every lord of a few square miles 
of territory, could condudl public war on his own 


Intro- account, the prohibition was of little more than 
ducflion formal value. HuAianism had been introduced 
by the end of the fifteenth century in some of 
the German universities, but too late to have 
much effedl on the rising fury of religious con- 
troversy. The very year in which this treatise 
against war was published gave to the world an- 
other work of even wider circulation and more 
profound consequences. The famous Epistolae 
Obscurorum Virorum, first published in i^i^.and 
circulated rapidly among all the educated readers 
of Europe, made an open breach between the 
humanists and the Church. That breach was never 
closed; nor on the other hand could the efforts 
of well-intentioned reformers like Melandthon 
bring humanism into any organic relation with 
the reformed movement. When mutual exhaus- 
tion concluded the European struggle, civiliza- 
tion had to start afresh ; it took a century more to 
recover the lost ground. The very idea of human- 
ism had long before then disappeared. 

War, pestilence, the theologians : these were the 
three great enemies with which Erasmus says he 
had throughout life to contend. It was during the 
years he spent in England that he was perhaps 
least harassed by them. His three periods of resi- 
dence there--a fourth, in 1517, appears to have 
been of short duration and not marked by any 
very notable incident— were of the utmost im- 
portance in his life. During the first, in his resi- 


dence between the years 1497 and 1499 at Lon- Intro- 
don and Oxford, the English Renaissance, if the dudlion 
name be fully applicable to so partial and in-* 
conclusive a movement, was in the promise and 
ardour of its brief spring. It was then that Eras- 
mus made the acquaintance of those great Eng- 
lishmen whose names cannot be mentioned with 
too much reverence : Colet, Grocyn, Latimer, Liri- 
acre. These men were the makers of modern 
England to a degree hardly realized. They car- 
ried the future in their hands. Peace had descend- 
ed upon a weary country; and the younger gen- 
eration, was full of new hopes. The Enchiridion 
Militis Christiani, written soon after Erasmus re- 
turned to France, breathes the spirit of one who 
had not lost hope in the reconciliation of the 
Church and the world, of the old and new. When 
Erasmus made his second visit to England, in i jo6, 
that fair promise had grown and spread. Colet had 
become dean of Saint Paul's; and through him, 
as it would appear, Erasmus now made the ac- 
quaintance of another great man with whom he 
soon formed as close an intimacy, Thomas More. 
His Italian journey followed: he was in Italy 
nearly three years, at Turin, Bologna; Venice, Pa- 
dua, Siena, Rome. It was in the first of theseyears 
that Albert Durer was also in Italy, where he met 
Bellini and was recognized by the Italian masters 
as the head of a new transalpine art in no way 
inferior to their own. The year after Erasmus left 


Intro- Italy, Botticelli, the last survivor of the ancient 

ducflion world, died at Florence. 

Meanwhile, Henry VIII, a prince, young, hand- 
sonie,generous,pious,had succeeded to thethrone 
of England. A golden age was thought to have 
dawned. Lord Mountjoy, who had been the pupil 
of Erasmus at Paris, and with whom he had first 
come to England, lost no time in urging Henry 
to send for the most brilliant and famous of Eu- 
ropean scholars, and attach him to his court. The 
king, who had already met and admired him, 
needed no pressing. In the letter which Henry him- 
self wrote to Erasmus entreating him to take up 
his residence in England, the language employed 
was that of sincere admiration; nor was there any 
conscious insincerity in the main motive which 
he urged. " It is my earnest wish," wrote the king, 
" to restore Christ's religion to its primitive pu- 
rity." The history of the English Reformation sup- 
plies a strange commentary on these words. 

But the first few years of the new reign (1509- 
I5i3)» which coincide with the third and longest so- 
journ of Erasmus in England, were a time in which 
high hopes might not seem unreasonable. While 
Italy was ravaged by war and the rest of Europe 
was in uneasy ferment, England remained peace- 
ful and prosperous. The lust of the eyes and the 
pride of life were indeed the motive forces of 
the court; but alongside of these was a real desire 
for reform, and a real if very imperfecfl attempt 


to cultivate the nobler arts of peace, to estab- Intro- 
lish learning, and to purify religion. Colet's great ducflion 
foundation of Saint Paul's School in i jio is one of 
the landmarks of English history. Erasmus joined 
the founder and the first high master, Colet and 
Lily, in composing the schoolbooks to be used in 
it. He had already written, in More's house at Chel- 
sea, where pure religion reigned alongside of high 
culture, the Encomium Moriae, in which all his im- 
mense gifts of eloquence and wit were lavished 
on the cause of humanism and the larger cause of 
humanity. That war was at once a sin, a scandal, . 
and a folly was one of the central dodtrines of the 
group of eminent Englishmen with whom he was 
now associated. It was a dodlrine held by them 
with some ambiguity and in varying degrees. In 
the Utopia (iji6) More condemns wars of aggres- 
sion, while taking the common view as to wars of 
so-called self-defence. In 1513, when Henry, swept 
into the sedudti ve scheme for a partition of France 
by a European confederacy, was preparing for 
the first of his many useless and inglorious conti- 
nental campaigns, Colet spoke out more freely. 
He preached before the court against war itself 
as barbarous and unchristian, and did not spare 
either kings or popes who dealt otherwise. Henry 
was disturbed; he sent for Colet, and pressed him 
hard on the point whether he meant that all wars 
were unjustifiable. Colet was in advance of his ^ 

age, but not so far in advance of it as this. He gave 


Intro- some kind of answer which satisfied the king. The 
dudlion preparations for war went forward; the Battle of 
Spurs plunged the court and all the nation into the 
intoxication of vicflory ; while at Flodden-edge, 
in the same autumn, die ancestral allies of France 
sustained the most crushing defeat recorded in 
Scottish history. When both sides in a war have 
invoked God's favour, the successful side is ready 
enough to believe that its prayers have been an- 
swered and its adlion accepted by God. 

Erasmus was now reader in Greek and professor 
of divinity at Cambridge; but Cambridge was far 
away from the centre of European thought and 
of literary activities. He left England before the 
end of the year for Basel, where the greater part 
of his life thenceforth was passed. Froben had 
made Basel the chief literary centre of produc- 
tion for the whole of Europe. Through Froben's 
printing-presses Erasmus could reach a wider au- 
dience than was allowed him at any court, how- 
ever favourable to pure religion and the new 
learning. It was at this jundlure that he made an 
eloquent and far-reaching appeal, on a matter 
which lay very near his heart, to the conscience 
of Christendom. 

The Adagia, that vast work which was, at least 
to his own generation, Erasmus's foremost title to 
fame, has long ago passed into the rank of those 
monuments of literature " dont la reputation s'af- 
fermira toujours parcequ'on ne les lit guere." So 


far as Erasmus is more than a name for most mo- Intro- 
dem readers, it is on slighter and more popu- ducftion 
lar works that any direc5l knowledge of him is 
grounded— on the Colloquies, which only ceased 
to be a schoolbook within living memory, on the 
Praise of Folly, and on selec5lions from the enor- 
mous masses of his letters. An Oxford scholar of 
the last generation, whose profound knowledge 
of humanistic literature was accompanied by a 
gift of terse and pointed expression, describes the 
Adagia in a single sentence, as '*a manual of the 
wit and wisdom of the ancient world for the 
use of the modem, enlivened by commentary in 
Erasmus's finest vein." In its first form, the Ada- 
giorum Collec5lanea, it was published by him at 
Paris in ijoo, just after his return from England. 
In the author's epistle dedicatory to Mountjoy he 
ascribes to him and to Richard Chamock, the 
prior of Saint Mary's College in Oxford, the in- 
spiration of the work. It consists of a series of be- 
tween eight and nine hundred comments in brief 
essays, each suggested by some terse or prover- 
bial phrase from an ancient Latin author. The 
work gave full scope for the display, not only of 
the immense treasures of his learning, but of those 
other qualities, the combination of which raised 
theirauthorfaraboveall other contemporary wri- 
ters, his keen wit, his copiousness and facility, his 
complete control of Latin as a living language. It 
met with an enthusiastic reception, and placed 


Intro- him at once at the head of European men of let- 
dudtion ters. Edition after edition poured from the press. 
It was ten times reissued at Paris within a genera-* 
tion. Eleven editions were published at Strasburg 
between 1509 and ij2i. Within the same years 
it was reprinted at Erfurt, The Hague, Cologne, 
Mayence, Leyden, and elsewhere. The Rhine 
valley was the great nursery of letters north of 
the Alps, and along the Rhine from source to sea 
the book spread and was multiplied. 

This success induced Erasmus to enlarge and 
complete his labours. The Adagiorum Chiliades, 
the title of the work in its new form, was part 
of the work of his residence in Italy in the years 
1506-9, and was published at Venice by Aldus 
in September, ijo8. The enlarged collecftion, to 
all intents and purposes a new work, consists of 
no less than three thousand two hundred and 
sixty heads. In a preface, Erasmus speaks slight-* 
ingly of the Adagiorum Collec5lanea, with that 
affec5lation from which few authors are free, as a 
little colledlion carelessly made. " Some people 
got hold of it,** he adds, (and here the affedta- 
tion becomes absolute untruth,) " and had it print- 
ed very incorredlly." In the new work, however, 
much of the old disappears, much more is par- 
tially or wholly recast; and such of the old matter 
as is retained is dispersed at random among the 
new. In the Collecftanea the commentaries had 
all been brief: here many are expanded into sub- 


• ■^ 


stantial treatises covering four or five pages of Intro- 
closely printed folio. dudlion 

The Aldine edition had been reprinted at Basel 
by Froben in IJ13. Shortly afterwards Erasmus 
himself took up his permanent residence there. 
Under his immediate supervision there presently 
appeared what was to all intents and purposes 
the definitive edition of 1^1^. It is a book of nearly 
seven hundred folio pages, and contains, besides 
the introdudlory matter, three thousand four hun- 
dred and eleven headings. In his preface Erasmus 
gives some details with regard to its composition. 
Of the original Paris work he now says, no doubt 
with truth, that it was undertaken by him has- 
tily and without enough method. When prepar- 
ing the Venice edition he had better realized the 
magnitude of the enterprise, and was better fit- 
ted for it by reading and learning, more espe- 
cially by the mass of Greek manuscripts, and of 
newly printed Greek first editions, to which he 
had access at Venice and in other parts of Italy. 
In England also, owing very largely to the kind- 
ness of Archbishop Warham , more leisure and an 
ampler library had been available. 

Among several important additions made in the 
edition of 1^1^, this essay, the text of which is the 
proverbial phrase " Dulce bellum inexpertis," is at 
once the longest and the most remarkable. The 
adage itself, with a few lines of commentary, had 
indeed been in the original collection; but the 


Intro- treatise, in itself a substantial work, now appeared 
ducflion for the first time. It occupied a conspicuous place 
as the first heading in the fourth Chiliad of the 
complete work'; and it was at once singled out 
from the rest as of special note and profound im- 
port. Froben was soon called upon for a separate 
edition. This appeared in April, i J17, in a quarto of 
twenty pages. This little book, the Bellum Erasmi 
as it was called for the sake of brevity, ran like 
wildfire from reader to reader. Half the scholarly 
presses of Europe were soon employed in re- 
printing it. Within ten years it had been reissued 
at Louvain, twice at Strasburg, twice at Mayence, 
at Leipsic, twice at Paris, twice at Cologne, at Ant- 
werp, and at Venice. German translations of it 
were published at Basel and at Strasburg in 1519 
and IJ20. It soon made its way to England, and 
the translation here utilized was issued by Ber- 
thelet, the king's printer, in the winter of i J33-4. 

Whether the translation be by Richard Taver- 
ner, the translator and editor, a few years later, 
of an epitome or selection of the Chiliades, or by 
some other hand, there are no direcfl means of 
ascertaining; nor except for purposes of curiosity 
is the question an important one. The version 
wholly lacks distincflion. It is a work of adequate 
scholarship but of no independent literary merit. 
English prose was then hardly formed. The re- 
vival of letters had reached the country, but for 
political and social reasons which are readily to 



be found in any handbook of English history, it Intro- 
had found a soil, fertile indeed, but not yet broken ducftion 
up. Since Chaucer, English poetry had pracftically 
stood still, and except where poetry has cleared 
the way, prose does not in ordinary circumstan- 
ces advance. A few adventurers in setting forth 
had appeared. More's Utopia, one of the earliest 
of English prose classics, is a classic in virtue of its 
style as well as of its matter. Bemers's translation 
of Froissart, published im 523, was the first and one 
of the finest of that magnificent series of trans- 
lations which from this time onwards for about a 
century were produced in an almost continuous 
stream, and through which the secret of prose was 
slowly wrung from older and more accomplished 
languages. Latimer, about the same time, showed 
his countrymen how a vernacular prose, flexible, 
well knit, and nervous, might be written without 
its lines being traced on any ancient or foreign 
model. Goverdale, the greatest master of English 
prose whom the century produced, whose name 
has just missed the immortality that is secure for 
his work, must have substantially completed that 
magnificent version of the Bible which appeared 
in 1J3J, and to which the authorized version of 
the seventeenth century owes all that one work 
of genius can owe to another. It is not with these 
great men that the translator of this treatise can 
be compared. But he wrought, after his measure, 
on the same structure as they. 


Intro- It is then to the original Latin, not to this rude 
ducflion and stammering version, that scholars must turn 
now, as still more certainly they turned then, for 
the mind of Erasmus ; for with him, even more 
eminently than with other authors, the style is the 
man, and his Latin is the substance, not merely 
the dress, of his thought. When he wrote it he was 
about forty-eight years of age. He was still in the 
fullness of his power. If he was often crippled 
by delicate health, that was no more than he 
had habitually been from boyhood. In this trea- 
tise we come very near the real man, with his 
strange mixture of liberalism and orthodoxy, of 
clear-sighted courage and a delicacy which near- 
ly always might be mistaken for timidity. 

His text is that (in the translator's words) " no- 
thing is either more wicked or more wretched, 
nothing doth worse become a man (I will not say 
a Christian man) than war." War was shocking 
to Erasmus alike on every side of his remarkably 
complex and sensitive nature. It was impious; it 
was inhuman; it was ugly; it was in every sense 
of the word barbarous, to one who before all 
things and in the full sense of the word was civi- 
lized and a lover of civilization. All these varied 
aspects of the case, seen by others singly and 
partially, were to him facets of one truth, rays of 
one light. His argument circles and flickers among 
them, hardly pausing to enforce one before pass- 
ing insensibly to another. In the splendid vindi- 


cation of the nature of man with which the trea- Intro- 
tise opens, the tone is rather that of Cicero than dudtion 
of the New Testament. The majesty of man re- 
sides above all in his capacity to "behold the 
very pure strength and nature of things ; " in es- 
sence he is no fallen and corrupt creature, but a 
piece of workmanship such as Shakespeare de- 
scribes him through the mouth of Hamlet. He 
was shaped to this heroic mould "by Nature, or 
rather god," so the Tudor translation reads, and 
the use of capital letters, though only a freak of 
the printer, brings out with a singular suggesti ve- 
ness the latent pantheism which underlies the 
thought of all the humanists. To this wonderful 
creature strife and warfare are naturally repug- 
nant. Not only is his frame "weak and tender," 
but he is "bom to love and amity." His chief end, 
the objedl to which all his highest and most dis- 
tindlively human powers are directed, is cooper- 
ant labour in the pursuit of knowledge. War conies 
out of ignorance, and into ignorance it leads ; of 
war comes contempt of virtue and of godly liv- 
ing. In the age of Machiavelli the word "virtue" 
had a double and sinister meaning; but here it is 
taken in its nobler sense. Yet, the argument con- 
tinues, for "virtue," even in the Florentine states- 
man's sense, war gives but little room. It is waged 
mainly for "vain titles or childish wrath; "it does 
not foster, in those responsible for it, any one of 
the nobler excellences. The argument throughout 


Intro- this part of the treatise is, both in its substance and 
dudlion in its ornament, wholly apart from the dogmas of 
religion. The furies of war are described as rising 
out of a very pagan hell. The apostrophe of Na- 
ture to mankind immediately suggests the spirit 
as well as the language of Lucretius. Erasmus had 
clearly been reading the De Rerum Natura, and 
borrows some of his finest touches from that mi- 
raculous description of the growth of civilization 
in the fifth book, which is one of the noblest con- 
tributions of antiquity towards a real conception 
of the nature of the world and of man. The pro- 
gressive degeneration of morality, because, as its 
scope becomes higher, pradtice falls further and 
further short of it, is insisted upon by both these 
great thinkers in much the same spirit and with 
much the same illustrations. The rise of empires, 
" of which there was never none yet in any na- 
tion, but it was gotten with the great shedding of 
man's blood," is seen by both in the same light. 
But Erasmus passes on to the more expressly reli- 
gious aspec5l of the whole matter in the great dou- 
ble climax with which he crowns his argument, 
the wickedness of a Christian fighting against 
another man, the horror of a Christian fighting 
against another Christian. "Yea, and with a thing 
so devilish," he breaks out in a mingling of intense 
scorn and profound pity, "we mingle Christ." 

From this passionate appeal he passes to the 
praises of peace. Why should men add the horrors 


of war to all the other miseries and dangers of Intro- 
life ? Why should one man's gain be sought only dudlion 
through another's loss? AH victories in war are 
Cadmean ; not only from their cost in blood and 
treasure, but because we are in very truth " the 
members of one body," " redeemed with Christ's 
blood." Such was the clear, unmistakable teach- 
ing of our Lord himself, such of his apostles. But 
the dodlrine of Christ has been " plied to worldly 
opinion." Worldly men, philosophers following 
" the sophistries of Aristotle," worst of all, divines 
and theologians themselves, have corrupted the 
Gospel to the heathenish doc5lrine that "every 
man must first provide for himself." The very- 
words of Scripture are wrested to this abuse. Self- 
defence is held to excuse any violence. " Peter 
fought," they say, " in the garden," —yes, and that 
same night he denied his Master! "But punish- 
ment of wrong is a divine ordinance." In war the 
punishment falls on the innocent. "But the law 
of nature bids us repel violence by violence." 
What is the law of Christ? " But may not a prince 
go to war justly for his right? " Did any war ever 
lack a title ? " But what of wars against the Turk ? " 
Such wars are of Turk against Turk; let us over- 
come evil with good, let us spread the Gospel by 
doing what the Gospel commands: did Christ 
say. Hate them that hate you? 

Then, with the tadl of an accomplished orator, 
he lets the tension relax, and drops to a lower 


Intro- tone. Even apart firom all that has been urged, 
dudlion even if war were ever justifiable, think of the 
price that has to be paid for it. On this ground 
alone an unjust peace is far preferable to a just 
war. (These had been the very words of Colet to 
the king of England.) Men go to war under fine 
pretexts, but really to get riches, to satisfy hatred, 
or to win the poor glory of destroying. The ha- 
tred is but exasperated; the glory is won by and 
for the dregs of mankind ; the riches are in the 
most prosperous event swallowed up ten times 
over. Yet if it be impossible but war should be, 
if there may be sometimes a "colour of equity " 
in it, and if the tyrant's plea, necessity, be ever 
well-founded, at least, so Erasmus ends, let it be 
conduc5led mercifully. Let us live in fervent de- 
sire of the peace that we may not fully attain. 
Let princes restrain their peoples; let church- 
men above all be peacemakers. So the treatise 
passes to its conclusion with that eulogy of the 
Medicean pope already mentioned, which per- 
haps was not wholly undeserved. To the mod- 
em world the name of Leo X has come down 
marked with a note of censure or even of igno- 
miny. It is fair to remember that it did not bear 
quite the same aspec5l to its contemporaries, nor 
to the ages which immediately followed. Un- 
der Rodrigo Borgia it might well seem to others 
than to the Florentine mystic that antichrist was 
enthroned, and Satan let loose upon earth. The 


eight years of Leo's pontificate (1513-21) were at Intro- 
least a period of outward splendour and of a re- ducflion 
finement hitherto unknown. The corruption, half 
veiled by that refinement and splendour, was 
deep and mortal, but the collapse did not come 
till later. By comparison with the disastrous reign 
of Clement VII, his bastard cousin, that of Gio- 
vanni de' Medici seemed a last gleam of light be- 
fore blackness descended on the world. Even the 
licence of a dissolute age was contrasted to its fa- 
vour with the gloom, " tristitia," that settled down 
over Europe with the great Catholic reaction. 
The age of Leo X has descended to history as the 
age of Bembo, Sannazaro, Lascaris, of the Stanze 
of the Vatican, of RaphaeFs Sistine Madonna and 
Titian's Assumption ; of the conquest of Mexico 
and the circumnavigation of Magellan; of Mag- 
dalen Tower and King's College Chapel. It was 
an interval of comparative peace before a long 
epoch of wars more cruel and more devastating 
than any within the memory of men. The gene- 
ral European conflagration did not break out un- 
til ten years after Erasmus's death; though it had 
then long been foreseen as inevitable. But he lived 
to see the conquest of Rhodes by Soliman, the 
sack of Rome, the breach between England and 
the papacy, the ill-omened marriage of Cathe- 
rine de' Medici to the heir of the French throne. 
Humanism had done all that it could, and failed. 
In the sanguinary era of one hundred years be- 


Intro- tween the outbreak of the civil war in the Em- 
dudtion pire and the Pe^ce of Westphalia, the Renais- 
sance followed the Middle Ages to the grave, and 
the modem world was bom. 

The mere fadl of this treatise having been trans- 
lated into English and published by the king's 
printer shows, in an age when the literary pro- 
duc5l of England was as yet scanty, that it had 
some vogue and exercised some influence. But 
only a few copies of the work are known to exist ; 
and it was never reprinted. It was not until nearly 
three centuries later, amid the throes of an Euro- 
pean revolution equally vast, that the work was 
again presented in an English dress. Vicesimus 
Knox, a whig essayist, compiler, and publicist of 
some reputation at the time, was the author of a 
book which was published anonymously in 1794 
and found some readers in a year filled with great 
events in both the history and the literature of 
England. It was entitled "Anti-Polemus: or the 
Plea of Reason, Religion, and Humanity against 
War: a Fragment translated from Erasmus and ad- 
dressed to Aggressors."^That was the year when 
the final breach took place in the whig party, and 
when Pitt initiated his brief and ill-fated policy 
of conciliation in Ireland. It was also the year of 
two works of enormous influence over thought, 
Paley's Evidences and Paine's Age of Reason. 
Among these great movements Knox's work had 
but little chance of appealing to a wide audience. 


*'Sed quid ad nos? " the bitter motto on the title- Intro- 
page, probably expressed the feelings with which ducft ion 
it was generally regarded. A version of the treatise 
against war, made from the Latin text of the 
Adagia with some omissions, is the main sub- 
stance of the volume; and Knox added a few ex- 
tracts from other writings of Erasmus on the same 
subject. It does not appear to have been reprint- 
ed in England, except in a collected edition of 
Knox's works which may be found on the dusti- 
est shelves of old-fashioned libraries, until, after 
the close of the Napoleonic wars, it was again pub- 
lished as a trac5l by the Society for the Promotion 
of Permanent and Universal Peace. Some half 
dozen impressions of this trac5l appeared at in* 
tervals up to the middle of the century; its pub- 
lication passed into the hands of the Society of 
Friends, and the last issue of which any record 
can be found was made just before the outbreak 
of the Crimean war. But in 1813 an abridged edi- 
tion was printed at New York, and was one of 
the books which influenced the great movement 
towards hurnanity then stirring in the young Re- 

At the present day, the reactionary wave which 
has overspread the world has led, both in Eng- 
land and America, to a new glorification of war. 
Peace is on the lips of governments and of in- 
dividuals, but beneath the smooth surface the 
same passions, draped as they always have been 




♦ ♦ 

|T is both an elegant proverb, and 
among all others, by the writ- 
ings of many excellent authors, 
full often and solemnly used, 
Dulce bellum inexpertis, that is 
to say War is sweet to them that 
know it not. There be some things among mortal 
men's businesses, in the which how great danger 
and hurt there is, a man cannot perceive till he 
make a proof. The love and friendship of a great 
man is sweet to them that be not expert: he that 
hath had thereof experience, is afraid. It seemeth 
to be a gay and a glorious thing, to strut up and 
down among the nobles of the court, and to be 
occupied in the king's business ; but old men, to 
whom that thing by long experience is well known, 
do gladly abstain themselves from such felicity. 
It seemeth a pleasant thing to be in love with a 
young damsel ; but that is unto them that have 
not yet perceived how much grief and bitterness 
is in such love. So after this manner of fashion, this 
proverb may be applied to every business that 
is adjoined with great peril and with many evils : 
the which no man will take on hand, but he that 
is young and wanteth experience of things. 

Against Aristotle, in his book of Rhetoric, showeth the 
War cause why youth is more bold, and contrariwise 
old age more fearful : for unto young men lack 
of experience is cause of great boldness, and to 
the other, experience of many griefs engender- 
eth fear and doubting. Then if there be anything 
in the world that should be taken in hand with 
fear and doubting, yea, that ought by all man- 
ner of means to be fled, to be withstood with 
prayer, and to be clean avoided, verily it is war; 
than which nothing is either more wicked, or 
more wretched, or that morefarther destroy eth, or 
that never hand cleaveth sorer to, or doth more 
hurt, or is more horrible, and briefly to speak, no- 
thing doth worse become a man (I will not say a 
Christian man) than wan And yet it is a wonder 
to speak of, how nowadays in every place, how 
lightly, and how for every trifling matter, it is ta- 
ken in hand, how outrageously and barbarously 
it is gested and done, not only of heathen people, 
but also of Christian men ; not only of secular men, 
but also of priests and bishops; not only of young 
men and of them that have no experience, but 
also of old men and of those that so often have 
had experience; not only of the common and 
movable vulgar people, but most specially of the 
princes, whose duty had been, by wisdom and 
reason, to set in a good order and to pacify the light 
and hasty movings of the foolish multitude. Nor 
there lack neither lawyers, nor yet divines, the 


which are ready with their firebrands to kindle Against 
these things so abominable, and they encourage War 
them that else were cold, and they privily pro- 
voke those to it that were weary thereof. And by 
these means it is come to that pass that war is a 
thing now so well accepted, that men wonder at 
him that is not pleased therewith. It is so much 
approved, that it is counted a wicked thing (and I 
had almost said heresy) to reprove this one thing, 
the which as it is above all other things most mis- 
chievous, so it is most wretched. But how more 
justly should this be wondered at, what evil spirit, 
what pestilence, what mischief, and what mad- 
ness put first in man's mind a thing so beyond 
measure beastly, that this most pleasant and rea- 
sonable creature Man, the which Nature hath 
brought forth to peace and benevolence, which 
one alone she hath brought forth to the help and 
succour of all other, should with so wild wilful- 
ness, with so mad rages, run headlong one to de- 
stroy another? At the which thing he shall also 
much more marvel, whosoever WQuId withdraw 
his mind from the opinions of the common peo- 
ple, and will turn it to behold the very pure 
strength and nature of things ; and will apart be- 
hold with philosophical eyes the image of man on 
the one side, and the pidlure of war on the other 

Then first of all if one would consider well but 
the behaviour and shape of man's body shall he 


Against not forthwith perceive that Nature, or rather God, 
War hath shaped this creature, not to war, but to 
friendship, not to destrudlion, but to health, not 
to wrong, but to kindness and benevolence? For 
whereas Nature hath armed all other beasts with 
their own armour, as the violence of the bulls she 
hath armed with horns, the ramping lion with 
claws; to the boar she hath given the gnash- 
ing tusks ; she hath armed the elephant with a 
longtrump snout, besides his greathuge body and 
hardness of the skin; she hath fenced the croco- 
dile with a skin as hard as a plate ; to the dolphin 
fish she hath given fins instead of a dart; the 
porcupine she defendethwith thorns; the ray and 
thomback with sharp prickles; to the cock she 
hath given strong spurs ; some she fenceth with 
a shell, some with a hard hide, as it were thick 
leather, or bark of a tree; some she provideth to 
save by swiftness of flight, as doves ; and to some 
she hath given venom instead of a weapon ; to 
some she hath given a much horrible and ugly 
look, she hath given terrible eyes and grunting 
voice; and she hath also set among some of them 
continual dissension and debate'-^ man alone she 
hath brought forth all naked, weak, tender, and 
without any armour, with most soft flesh and 
smooth skin. There is nothing at all in all his mem- 
bers that may seem to be ordained to war, or to 
any violence. I will not say at this time, that where 
all other beasts, anon as they are brought forth, 


they are able of themselves to get their food, Man Against 
alone cometh so forth, that a long season after he War 
is bom, he dependeth altogether on the help of 
others. He can neither speak nor go, nor yet take 
meat; he desireth help only by his infant crying: 
so that a man may, at the least way, by this conjedt, 
that this creature alone was born all to love and 
amity, which specially increaseth and is fast knit 
together by good turns done eftsoons of one to 
another. And for this cause Nature would, that a 
man should not so much thank her, for the gift of 
life, which she hath given unto him, as he should 
thank kindness and benevolence, whereby he 
might evidently understand himself, that he was 
altogether dedicate and bounden to the gods of 
graces, that is to say, to kindness, benevolence, and 
amity. And besides this Nature hath given unto 
man a countenance not terrible and loathly, as 
unto other brute beasts ; but meek and demure, 
representing the very tokens of love and bene- 
volence. She hath given him amiable eyes, and 
in them assured marks of the inward mind. She 
hath ordained him arms to clip and embrace. She 
hath given him the wit and understanding to kiss: 
whereby the very minds and hearts of men should 
be coupled together, even as though they touched 
each other. Unto man alone she hath given laugh- 
ing, a token of good cheer and gladness. To man 
alone she hath given weeping tears, as it were a 
pledge or token of meekness and mercy . Yea, and 


Against she hath given him a voice not threatening and 
War horrible, as unto other brute beasts, but amiable 
and pleasant. Nature not yet content with all this, 
she hath given unto man alone the commodity 
of speech and reasoning: the which things verily 
may specially both get and nourish benevolence, 
so that nothing at all should be done among men 
by violence. 

She hath endued man with hatred of solitariness, 
and with love of company. She hath utterly sown 
in man the very seeds of benevolence. She hath so 
done, that the selfsame thing, that is most whole- 
some, should be most sweet and deledlable. For 
what is more deledlable than a friend? And again, 
what thing is more necessary ? Moreover, if a man 
might lead all his life most profitably without 
any meddling with other men, yet nothing would 
seem pleasant without a fellow: except a man 
would cast off all humanity, and forsaking his own 
kind would become a beast. 

Besides all this, Nature hath endued man with 
knowledge of liberal sciences and a fervent desire 
of knowledge : which thing as it doth most spe- 
cially withdraw man's wit from all beastly wild- 
ness, so hath it a special grace to get and knit to- 
gether love and friendship. For I dare boldly say, 
that neither affinity nor yet kindred doth bind the 
minds of men together with straiter and surer 
bands of amity, than doth the fellowship of them 
that be learned in good letters and honeststudies. 


And above all this. Nature hath divided among Against 
men by a marvellous variety the gifts, as well of War 
the soul as of the body, to the intent truly that 
every man might find in every singular person 
one thing or other, which they should either love 
or praise forthe excellency thereof ; or else greatly 
desire and make much of it, for the need and pro^ 
fit that Cometh thereof. Finally she hath endowed 
man with a spark of a godly mind : so that though 
he see no reward, yet of his own courage he de- 
lighteth to do every man good : for unto God it 
is most proper and natural, by his benefit, to do 
everybody good. Else what meaneth it, that we 
rejoice and conceive in our minds no little plea- 
sure when we perceive that any creature is by 
our means preserved. 

Moreover God hath ordained man in this world, 
as it were the very image of himself, to the intent, 
that he, as it were a god on earth, should provide 
for the wealth of all creatures. And this thing the 
very brute beasts do also perceive, for we may 
see, that not only the tame beasts, but also the 
leopards, lions, and other more fierce and wild, 
when they be in any great jeopardy, they flee 
to man for succour. So man is, when all things fail, 
the last refuge to all manner of creatures. He is 
unto them all the very assured altar and sandlu- 

I have here painted out to you the image of 
man as well as I can. On the other side (if it like 


Against you) against the figure of Man, let us portray the 

War fashion and shape of War. 

Now, then, imagine in thy mind, that thou dost 
behold two hosts of barbarous people, of whom 
the look is fierce and cruel, and the voice horrible; 
the terrible and fearful rustling and glistering of 
their harness and weapons; the unlovely murmur 
of so huge a multitude; the eyes sternly mena- 
cing; the bloody blasts and terrible sounds of trum- 
pets and clarions; the thundering of the guns, no 
less fearful than thunder indeed, but much more 
hurtful; the frenzied cry and clamour, the furious 
and mad running together, the outrageous slaugh^ 
ter , the cruel chances of them that flee and of those 
that are stricken down and slain, the heaps of 
slaughters, the fields overflowed with blood, the 
rivers dyefl red with man's blood. And it chan- 
ceth oftentimes, that the brother fighteth with the 
brother, one kinsman with another, friend against 
friend; and in that common furious desire oft- 
times one thrusteth his weapon quite through the 
body of another that never gave him so much 
as a foul word. Verily, this tragedy containeth so 
many mischiefs, that it would abhor any man's 
heart to speak thereof. 1 will let pass to speak of 
the hurts which are in comparison of the other 
but light and common, as the treading down 
and destroying of the com all about, the burning 
of towns, the villages fired, the driving away of 
cattle, the ravishing of maidens, the old men led 


forth in captivity, the robbing of churches, and Against 
all things confounded and full of thefts, pillages. War 
and violence. Neither I will not speak now of those 
things which are wont to follow the most happy 
and most just war of all. 

The poor commons pillaged, the nobles over- 
charged ; so many old men of their children be- 
reaved, yea, and slain also intheslaughter of their 
children; so many old women destitute, whom 
sorrow more cruelly slayeth than the weapon 
itself; so many honest wives become widows, so 
many children fatherless, so many lamentable 
houses, so many rich men brought to extreme 
poverty. And what needeth it here to speak of 
the destrudlion of good manners, since there is no 
man but knoweth right well that the universal 
pestilence of all mischievous living proceedeth at 
once from war. Thereof cometh despising of vir- 
tueand godly living; thereof cometh, that the laws 
are negledled and not regarded ; thereof cometh a 
prompt and a ready stomach, boldly to do every 
mischievous deed. Out of this fountain spring so 
huge great companies of thieves, robbers, sacri- 
legers, and murderers. And what is most griev- 
ous of all, this mischievous pestilence cannot keep 
herself within her bounds; but after it is begun 
in some one comer, it doth not only (as a con- 
tagious disease) spread abroad and infedl the 
countries near adjoining to it, but also it draweth 
into that common tumult and troublous busi- 


Against ness the countries that be very far off, either for 
War need» or by reason of affinity, or else by occasion 
of some league made. Yea and moreover, one war 
springeth of another: of a dissembled war there 
Cometh war indeed, and of a very small, a right 
great war hath risen. Nor it chanceth oftentimes 
none otherwise in these things than it is feigned 
of the monster, which lay in the lake or pond 
called Lema. 

For these causes, I trow, the old poets, the which 
most sagely perceived the power and nature of 
things, and with most meet feignings covertly sha- 
dowed the same, have left in writing, that war 
was sent out of hell: nor every one of the Furies 
was not meet and convenient to bring about this 
business, but the most pestilent and mischievous 
of them all was chosen out for the nonce, which 
hath a thousand names, and a thousand crafts to 
do hurt. She being armed with a thousand ser- 
pents, bloweth before her her fiendish trumpet. 
Pan with furious ruffling encumtereth every 
place. Bellona shaketh her furious flail. And then 
the wicked furiousness himself, when he hath \m- 
done all knots and broken all bonds, rusheth out 
with bloody mouth horrible to behold. 

The grammarians perceived right well these 

things, of the which some will, that war have his 

name by contrary meaning of the word Bellum, 

that is to say fair, because it hath nothirig good 

» V>- nor fair. Nor bellum, that is for to say war, is none 

■'-^ _.-■ \ 12 

■' V. 



otherwise called Bellum, that is to say fair, than Against 
the furies are called Eumenides, that is to say War 
meek, because they are wiffuTand cox^trarjJaLSll 
meekness. And some gra]pQ[y,ti^ns think rather, 
tKaFBellum, war. should be derived.^JUt .of this j f, 
word Belva, that is for to say, a brute beast : foras- *^"^ '^ ^ 
much as it belongeth to brute beasts, and not unto 
jjien,to mn together, eac^ to destroy c^adijothi^r.^ 
But it seemeth to me far to pass all wild and all 
brute beastliness, to fight together with weapons. 
First, for there are many of the brute beasts, each 
in his kind, that agree and ljYfi,ina gejJtle f^sh^ 
togetheFi and they go together in herds and flocks^ 
ahcleach helpeth to defend the other. Nor is it the 1 

nature of ajl wikLJaeasls. Jx> fightrfor some^^are | ^ ., ,v » 


'■ hduoless, as does and hares. But they that are the ^ . ji.v^^. 
i niQstfi€HFGe^.alI^.a&Ji9ji5. wplves,.jLncJl, tigers, do 
I not make war among themselyea as^w^ do. One 
, dog eateth not another. The Iions,though they be 
fierce and cruel, yet they fight not among. tbeOT" 
selygts. One djagQn is in peace widi«i(Gther. And 
diere is agreement among poisonous serpents. But 
unto jnao there is no wild or cruel beast more 
hurtful thaaman. ^ 

Again, when the brute beasts fight, they fight ^ 
wijli their own natutel amipur : w above ;^ J <; .*- 

nature, to the destrudtion of men, ami o.ursfiIyes ^ "^ "* \ 
withMnnQUTjj^^ Nor * " 

the wild beasts are notcruel for every iiause ; but 

either when hunger maketh them fierce, or else 

^ '■"• 


Against when they perceive thcnjselYes to beliUQ]£cLand 
War pursuedio..thejdeatlui3r else when they fear lest 
their younglings should taka anyhannjorbe^teien 
from them. But (O good Lord) for what trifling 
causes what tragedies of war dp y/e^stir up? For 
most \cain. titles, for childish wrath, for a wench, 
yea, and for causes much more scornful than these, 
\ we be inflamed to fight. 

' Moreover, when the brute beasts fight, then war 
is one for one, yea. and that is very short. And 
when the battle is sorest fought, yet is there not 
past one pxJtwq, that goeth away sore wpund^. 
When was itever heard that an hundr^ thousand 
brute beasts were slain at one >. time fighting^and 
• tearing one another : whfch thing mea do full oft 
and in many places ? And besides this, whereas 
some wild beasts have natural debate with some 
other that be of a contrary kind, so again there be 
some with which they lovingly agree in a sure 
amity. But man with man, and each with other, 
/ have among them cqritinual war; nor is there 
; le4guesuFeenoughamonganymen.Sothatwhat- 
; soever it be, that hath gone out of kind, it hath 
gone out of kind into a worse fashion, than if Na- 
ture herself had engendered therein a malice at 
the beginning. 

Will ye see how beastly, how foul, and how un- 
worthy a thing war is for man? Did ye never be- 
hold a lion let loose unto a bear ? What gapings, 
what roarings, what grisly gnashing, what tear- 


ing of their flesh, is there? He trembleth that be- Against 
holdeth them, yea, though he stand sure and safe War 
enough from them. But how much more grisly a 
sight is it, how much more outrageous and cruel, 
to behold man to fight with man, arrayed with 
so much armour, and with so many weapons? I 
beseech you, who would believe that they were 
men, if it were not because war is a thing so much 
jn custom that no man marvelleth at it ? Their 
eyes glow like fire, their faces be pale, their march- 
ing forth is like men in a fury, their voice screech- 
ing and grunting, their cry and frenzied clamour; 
all is iron, their harness and weapons jingling and 
clattering, and the guns thundering. It might have 
been better suffered, if man, for lack of meat and 
drink, should have fought with man, to the intent 
he might devour his flesh and drink his blood: 
albeit, it is come also now to that pass, that some 
there be that do it more of hatred than either 
for hunger or for thirst. But now this same thing 
is done more cruelly, with weapons envenomed, 
and with devilish engines. So that nowhere may 
be perceived any token of man. Trow ye that Na- 
ture could here know it was the same thing, that 
she sometime had wrought with her own hands ? 
And if any man would inform her, that it were 
man that she beheld in such array, might she not 
well, with great wondering, say these words ? 

"What new manner of pageant is this that I be- 
hold ? What devil of hell hath brought us forth 


Against this monster. There be some that call me a step^ 
War mother, because that among so great heaps of 
things of my making I have brought forth some 
venomous things (and yet have I ordained the 
selfsame venomous things for man's behoof) ; and 
because I have made some beasts very fierc.e4nd 
perilous : and yet is there no beast so wild nor so 
perilous, but that by craft and diligence he may 
be hiade tame and gentle. By man's diligent la- 
^ ... bour the lions have. hppn maHp t ^m^^the dr^ons 

meek, and the bear&flhedient. But what is this, that 

worse is than any stepmother, which hdth brought 
us Forth this new unreasonable briite Nbeast, the 
^ pestilence and mischief of all this world? One 
beast alone 1 brought forth wholly dedicate to be 
benevolent, pleasant, friendly, and wholesome to 
all other. What hath chanced* that this creature 
is changed into such a brute beast? I perceive no- 
thing of the creature man, which I myself made. 
What 6vil spiritAatlv thus defiled my work ? What 
witch hath bewitched the,andtrans- 

fwmed it into such BriitTsfiness ? What sorceress 

'«■<■■■ ■ ■~~ — 

hath thus turned him out of Tils kindly shape? I 
command and would that the wretched creature 
should behold himself in a glass. But, alas, what 
shall theeyes see, where the mind is away? Yet be- 
hold thy self (if thou C4nst), thou furious warrior, 
and see if thou mayst by any means recover thy- 
self again. From whence hast thou that threaten- 
ing crest upon thy head ? From whence hast thou 


that shining helmet? From whence are those iron Against 
horns? Whence cometh it, that thine elbows are so War 
sharp and piked? Where hadst thou those scales? 
Where hadst thou those brazen teeth ? Of whence 
are those hard plates ? Whence are those deadly 
weapons ? From whence cometh to thee this voice 
more horrible than of a wild beast? What a look 
and countenance hast thou more terrible than of 
a brute beast? Where hast thou gotten this thun- 
der and lightning, both more fearful and hurtful 
than is the very thunder and lightning itself? I 
formed thee a goodly creature; what came into 
thy mind, that thou wouldst thus transform thy- 
self into so cruel and so beastly fashion, that there 
is no brute beast so unreasonable in comparison 
unto man ? " 
,j These words, and many other such like, I sup- 

j I pose, the Panie^Natur^, the worker of all. things^ 

] .would sfty;-Then since man is such as is showed 
before that he is, and that war is such a thing, like 
as too oft we have felt and known, it seemeth 
to me no small wonder, what ill spirit, what dis- 
ease, or what mishap, first put into man's mind, 
that he would bathe his mortal weapon in the 
blood of man. It must needs be, that men mounted 
up to so great madness by divers degrees. For 
there was never man yet (as Juvenal saith) that 
was suddenly most graceless of all And always 
things the worst have crept in among men's man- 
ners of living, under the shadow and shape of 


Against goodness. For some time those men that were in 
War the beginning of the world led their lives in woods ; 
they went naked, they had no walled towns, nor 
houses to put their heads in: it happened other- 
while that they were sore grieved and destroyed 
with wild beasts. Wherefore with them first of all, 
men made war, and he was esteemed a mighty 
strong man, and a captain, that could best defend 
mankind from the violence of wild beasts. Yea, 
and it seemed to them a thing most equable to 
strangle the stranglers, and to slay the slayers, 
namely, when the wild beast, not provoked by us 
for any hurt to them done, would wilfully set up- 
on us. And so by reason that this was counted a 
thing most worthy of praise (for hereof it rose that 
Hercules was made a god), the lusty-stomached 
young men began all about to hunt and chase the 
wild beasts, and as a token of their valiant vidtory 
the skins of such beasts as they slew were set up 
in such places as the people might behold them. 
Besides this they were not contented to slay the 
wild beasts, but they used to wear their skins to 
keep them from the cold in winter. These were 
the first slaughters that men used: these were 
their spoils and robberies. After this, they went 
so farforth, that they were bold to do a thing 
which Pythagoras thought to be very wicked ; and 
it might seem to us also a thing monstrous, if 
custom were not, which hath so great strength in 
every place: that by custom it was reputed in 


some countries a much charitable deed if a man Against 
would, when his father was very old, first sore War 
beat him, and after thrust him headlong into a pit, 
and so bereave him of his life, by whom it chanced 
him to have the gift of life. It was counted a holy 
thing for a man to feed on the flesh of his own kins- 
men and friends. They thought it a goodly thing, 
that a virgin should be made common to the 
people in the temple of Venus. And many other 
things, more abominable than these: of which if 
a man should now but only speak, every man 
would abhor to hear him. Surely there is nothing 
so ungracious, nor nothing so cruel, but men will 
hold therewith, if it be once approved by cus- 
tom. Then will ye hear, what a deed they durst 
at the last do? They were not abashed to eat the 
carcases of the wild beasts that were slain, to 
tear the unsavoury flesh with their teeth, to drink 
the blood, to suck out the matter of them, and 
(as Ovid saith) to hide the beasts' bowels within 
their own. And although at that time it seemed to 
be an outrageous deed unto them that were of a 
more mild and gentle courage : yet was it gener- 
ally allowed, and all by reason of custom and com- 
modity. Yet were they not so content. For they 
went from the slaying of noisome wild beasts, 
to kill the harmless beasts, and such as did no hurt 
at all. They waxed cruel everywhere upon the 
poor sheep, a beast without fraud or guile. They 
slew the hare, for none other offence, but be- 


Against cause he was a good fat dish of meat to feed 
War upon. Nor they forbare not to kill the tame ox, 
which had a long season, with his sore labour, 
nourished the unkind household. They spared no 
kind of beasts, of fowls, nor of fishes. Yea, and the 
tyranny of gluttony went so farforth that there 
was no beast anywhere that could be sure from 
the cruelty of man. Yea, and custom persuaded 
this also, that it seemed no cruelty at all to slay any 
manner of beast, whatsoever it was, so they ab- 
stained from manslaughter. Now peradventure 
it lieth in our power to keep out vices, that they 
enter not upon the manners of men, in like man- 
ner as it lieth in our power to keep out the sea, 
that it break not in upon us; but when the sea is 
once broken in, it passeth our power to restrain 
it within any bounds. So either of them both once 
let in, they will not be ruled, as we would, but 
run forth headlong whithersoever their own rage 
carrieth them. And so after that men had been ex- 
ercised with such beginnings to slaughter, wrath 
anon enticed man to set upon man, either with 
staff, or with stone, or else with his fist. For as yet, 
I think they used no other weapons. And now 
had they learned by the killing of beasts, that 
man also might soon and easily be slain with little 
labour. But this cruelty remained betwixt singu- 
lar persons, so that yet there was no great num- 
ber of men that fought together, but as it chanced 
one man against another. And besides this, there 



was no small colour of equity, if a man slew his Against 
enemy ; yea, and shortly after, it was a great praise War 
to a man to slay a violent and a mischievous man, 
and to rid him out of the world, such devilish and 
cruel caitiffs, as men say Cacus and Busiris were. 
For we see plainly, that for such causes, Her- 
cules was greatly praised. And in process of time, 
many assembled to take part together, either as 
affinity, or as neighbourhood, or kindred bound 
them. And what is now robbery was then war. 
And they fought then with stones, or with stakes, 
a little burned at the ends. A little river, a rock, 
or such other like thing, chancing to be between 
them, made an end of their battle. 

In the mean season, while fierceness by use in- 
creaseth, while wrath is grown great, and ambi- 
tion hot and vehement, by ingenious craft they 
arm their furious violence. They devise harness, 
such as it is, to fence them with. They invent wea- 
pons to destroy their enemies with. Thus now 
by few and few, now with greater company, and 
now armed they b^in to fight. Nor to this mani- 
fest madness they forget not to give honour. For 
they call it Bellum,that is to say, a fair thing; yea, 
and they repute it a virtuous deed, if a man, with 
the jeopardy of his own life, manly resist and de- 
fend from the violence of his enemies, his wife, 
children, beasts, and household. And by little and 
little, malice grew so great, with the high esteem- 
ing of other things, that one city began to send de- 


Against fiance and make war to another, country against 
War country, and realm against realm. And though 
the thing of itself was then most cruel, yet all 
this while there remained in them certain tokens, 
whereby they might be known for men: for such 
goods as by violence were taken away were asked 
and required again by an herald at arms; the 
gods were called to witness ; yea, and when they 
were ranged in battle, they would reason the mat- 
ter ere they fought. And in the battle they used 
but homely weapons,nor they used neither guile 
nor deceit, but only strength. It was not lawful 
for a man to strike his enemy till the sign of bat- 
tle was given; nor was it not lawful to fight after 
the sounding of the retreat. And for conclusion, 
they fought more to show their manliness and 
for praise, than they coveted to slay. Nor all this 
while they armed them not, but against strangers, 
the which they called hostes, as they had been 
hospites, their guests. Of this rose empires, of the 
which there was never none yet in any nation, 
but it was gotten with the great shedding of 
man's blood. And since that time there hath fol- 
lowed continual courseof war, while oneeftsoons 
laboureth to put another out of his empire, and 
to set himself in. After all this, when the empires 
came once into their hands that were most un- 
gracious of all other, they made war upon who- 
soever pleased them; nor were they not in great- 
est peril and danger of war that had most deserved 


to be punished, but they th^t by fortune had Against 
gotten great riches. And now they made not war War 
to get praise and fame, but to get the vile muck of 
the world, or else some other thing far worse than 

I think not the contrary, but that the great, wise 
man Pythagoras meant these things when he by 
a proper device of philosophy frightened the un- 
learned multitude of people from the slaying of 
silly beasts. For he perceived, it should at length 
come to pass, that he which (by no injury pro- 
voked) was accustomed to .spill the blood of a 
harmless beast, would in his anger, being pro- 
voked by injury, not fear to slay a man. 

War, what other thing else is it than a common 
manslaughter of many men together, and a rob- 
bery, the which, the farther it sprawleth abroad, 
the more mischievous it is ? But many gross gen- 
tlemen nowadays laugh merrily at these things, 
as though they were the dreams and dotings of 
schoolmen, the which, saving the shape, have no 
point of manhood, yet seem they in their own 
conceit to be gods. And yet of those beginnings, 
we see we be fun so far in madness, that we do 
naught else all our life-days. We war continually, 
city with city, prince with prince, people with 
people, yea, and (it that the heathen people con- 
fess to be a wicked thing) cousin with cousin, alli- 
ance with alliance, brother with brother, the son 
with the father, yea, and that I esteem more cruel 


Against than all these things, a Christian man against an- 
War other man; and yet furthermore, I will say that I 
am very loath to do, which is a thing most cruel of 
all, one Christian man with another Christian man. 
Oh, blindness of man's mind 1 at those things no 
man marvelleth, no man abhorreth them. There 
be some that rejoice at them, and praise them 
above the moon: and the thing which is more than 
devilish, they call a holy thing. Old men, crooked 
for age, make war, priests make war, monks go 
forth to war; yea, and with a thing so devilish we 
mingle Christ. The battles ranged, they encounter 
the one the other, bearing before them the sign of 
the Cross, which thing alone might at the least- 
wise admonish us by what means it should be- 
come Christian men to overcome. 

But we run headlong each to destroy other, 
even from that heavenly sacrifice of the altar, 
whereby is represented that perfedt and ineffa- 
ble knitting together of all Christian men. And 
of so wicked a thing, we make Christ both author 
and witness. Where is the kingdom of the devil, 
if it be not in war ? Why draw we Christ into war, 
with whom a brothel-house agreeth more than 
war ? Saint Paul disdaineth, that there should be 
any so great discord among Christian men, that 
they should need any judge to discuss the matter 
between them. What if he should come and be- 
hold us now through all the world, warring for 
every light and trifling cause, striving more cru- 


elly than ever did any heathen people, and more Against 
cruelly than any barbarous people? Yea, and ye War 
shall see it done by the authority, exhortations, 
and fiirtherings of those that represent Christ, 
the prince of peace and very bishop that all things 
knitteth together by peace and of those that sa- 
lute the people with good luck of peace. Nor is it 
not unknown to me what these unlearned peo- 
ple say (a good while since) against me in this 
matter, whose winnings arise of the common evils. 
They say thus : We make war against our wills : 
for we be constrained by the ungracious deeds of 
other. We make war but for our right. And if there 
come any hurt thereof, thank them that be caus- 
ers of it. But let these men hold their tongues a- 
while,and I shall after, in place convenient, avoid 
all their cavillatioris, and pluck off that false visor 
wherewith we hide all our malice. 

But first as I have above compared man with 
war, that is to say, the creature most demure 
with a thing most outrageous, to the intent that 
cruelty might the better be perceived : so will I 
compare war and peace together, the thing most 
wretched, and most mischievous, with the best 
and most wealthy thing that is. And so at last 
shall appear, how great madness it is, with so great 
tumult, with so great labours, with such intolera- 
ble expenses, with so many calamities, afFedtion- 
ately to desire war : whereas agreement might be 
bought with a far less price. 


Against First of all, what in all this world is more sweet 
War or better than amity or love ? Truly nothing. And 
I pray you, what other thing is peace than amity 
and love among men, like as war on the other 
side is naught else but dissension and debate of 
many men together? And surely the property of 
good things is such, that the broader they be 
spread, the more profit and commodity cometh 
of them. Farther, if the love of one singular per- 
son'with another be so sweet and deledlable, how 
great should the felicity be if realm with realm, 
and nation with nation, were coupled together, 
with the band of amity and love ? On the other 
side, the nature of evil things is such, that the far- 
ther they sprawl abroad, the more worthy they 
are to be called evil, as they be indeed. Then 
if it be a wretched thing, if it be an ungracious 
thing, that one man armed should fight with an- 
other, how much more miserable, how much more 
mischievous is it, that the selfsame thing should 
be done with so many thousands together? By 
love and peace the small things increase and wax 
great, by discord and debate die great things de- 
cay and come to naught. Peace is the mother and 
nurse of all good things. War suddenly and at 
once overthroweth, destroyeth, and utterly for- 
doeth everything that is pleasant and fair, and 
bringeth iii among men a monster of all mischie- 
vous things. 
In the time of peace (none otherwise than as if 

the lusty springtime should show and shine in Against 
men's businesses) the fields are tilled, the gardens War 
and orchards freshly flourish, the beasts pasture 
merrily; gay manours in the country are edi- 
fied, the towns are builded, where as need is re- 
parations are done, the buildings are heightened 
and augmented, riches increase, pleasures are 
nourished, the laws are executed, the common 
wealth flourisheth, religion is fervent, right reign- 
eth, gentleness is used, craftsmen are busily ex- 
ercised, the poor men's gain is more plentiful, 
the wealthiness of the rich men is more gay and 
goodly, the studies of most honest learnings flour- 
ish, youth is well taught, the aged folks have 
quiet and rest, maidens are luckily married, mo- 
thers are pr^used for bringing forth of children like 
to their progenitors, the good men prosper and 
do well, and the evil men do less offence. 

But as soon as the cruel tempest of war com- 
eth on us, good Lord, how great a flood of mis- 
chiefs occupieth, overfloweth, and drowneth all 
together. The fair herds of beasts are driven 
away, the goodly com is trodden down and de- 
stroyed, the good husbandmen are slain, the vil- 
lages are burned up, the most wealthy cities, that 
have flourished so many winters, with that one 
storm are overthrown, destroyed, and brought 
to naught : so much readier and prompter men 
are to do hurt than good. The good citizens are 
robbed and spoiled of their goods by cursed 


Against thieves and murderers. Every place is fiill of 
War fear, of wailing, complaining, and lamenting. The 
craftsmen stand idle; the poor men must either 
die for hunger, or fall to stealing. The rich men 
either stand and sorrow for their goods, that be 
plucked and snatched from them, or else they 
stand in great doubt to lose such goods as they 
have left them : so that they be on every side woe- 
begone. The maidens, either they be not married 
at all, or else if they be married, their marriages 
are sorrowful and lamentable. Wives, being de- 
stitute of their husbands, lie at home without any 
fruit of children, the laws are laid aside, gentle- 
ness is laughed to scom, right is clean exiled, reli- 
gion is set at naught, hallowed and unhallowed 
things all are one, youth is corrupted with all man- 
ner of vices, the old folk wail and weep, and wish 
themselves out of the world, there is no honour 
given unto the study of good letters. Finally, there 
is no tongue can tell the harm and mischief that 
we feel in war. * 

Perchance war might be the better suffered, if 
it made us but only wretched and needy; but it 
maketh us ungracious, and also full of unhappi- 
ness. And I think Peace likewise should be much 
made of, if it were but only because it maketh 
us more wealthy and better in our living. Alas, 
there be too many already, yea, and more than 
too many mischiefs and evils, with the which the 
wretched life of man (whether he will or no) is 


continually vexed, tormented, and utterly con- Against 
sumed. War 

It is near hand two thousand years since the phy- 
sicians had knowledge of three hundred divers 
notable sicknesses by name, besides other small 
sicknesses and new, as daily spring among us, and 
besides age also, which is of itself a sickness in- 

We read that in one place whole cities have 
been destroyed with earthquakes. We read, also, 
that in another place there have been cities alto- 
gether burnt with lightning ; how in another place 
whole regions have been swallowed up with 
opening of the earth, towns by undermining have 
fallen to the ground; so that I need not here to 
remember what a great multitude of men are 
daily destroyed by divers chances, which be not 
regarded because they happen so often : as sudden 
breaking out of the sea and of great floods, fall- 
ing down of hills and houses, poison, wild beasts, 
meat, drink, and sleep. One hath been strangled 
with drinking of a hair in a draught of milk, an- 
other hath been choked with a little grapestone, 
another with a fishbone sticking in his throat. 
There hath been, that sudden joy hath killed out 
of hand : for it is less wonder of tliem that die for 
vehement sorrow. Besides all this, what mortal 
pestilence see we in every place. There is no part 
of the world, that is not subjedl to peril and dan- 
ger of man's life, which life of itself also is most 


Against fugitive. So manifold mischances and evils assail 
War man on every side that not without cause Homer 
did say: Man was the most wretched of all crea- 
tures living. 

But forasmuch these mischances cannot lightly 
be eschewed, nor they happen not through our 
fault, they make us but only wretched, and not 
ungracious withal. What pleasure is it then for 
them that be subjedt already to so many misera- 
ble chances, willingly to seek and procure' them- 
selves another mischief more than they had be- 
fore, as though they yet wanted misery? Yea, 
they procure not a light evil, but such an evil that 
is worse than all the others, so mischievous, that it 
alone passeth all the others ; so abundant, that in 
itself alone is comprehended all ungraciousness ; 
so pestilent, that it maketh us all alike wicked as 
wretched, it maketh us full of all iriisery, and yet 
not worthy to be pitied. 

Now go farther, and with all these things consi- 
der, that the commodities of Peace spread them- 
selves most far and wide, and pertain unto many 
men. In war if there happen anything luckily 
(but, O good Lord, what may we say happenedi 
well and luckily in war?), it pertaineth to very 
few, and to them that are unworthy to have it. 
The prosperity of one is the destrudtion of an- 
other. The enriching of one is the spoil and rob- 
bing of another.The triumph of one is the lamen- 
table mourning of another, so that as the infeli- 


city is bitter and sharp, the felicity is cruel and Against 
bloody. Howbeit otherwhile both parties wept War 
according to the proverb, Vidtoria Cadmaea, Cad- 
mus vidtorie, where both parties repented. And 
I wot not whether it came ever so happily to pass 
in war, that he that had vidtory did not repent 
him of his enterprise, if he were a good man. 

Then seeing Peace is the thing above all other 
most best and most pleasant, and, contrariwise, 
war the thing most ungracious and wretched of all 
other, shall we think those men to be in their right 
minds, the which when they may obtain Peace 
with little business and labour will rather procure 
war with so great labour and most difficulty ? 

First of all consider, how loathly a thing the 
rumour of war is, when it is first spoken of. Then, 
how envious a thing it is unto a prince, while with 
often tithes and taxes he pillageth his subjedts. 
What a business hath he to make and entertain 
friends to help him ? what a business to procure 
bands of strangers and to hire soldiers ? 

What expenses and labours must he make in 
setting forth his navy of ships, in building and re- 
pairing of castles and fortresses, in preparing and 
apparelling of his tents and pavilions, in framing, 
making, and carrying of engines, guns, armour, 
weapons, baggage, carts, and vidlual ? What great 
labour is spent in making of bulwarks, in cast- 
ing of ditches, in digging of mines, in keeping of 
watches, in keeping of arrays, and in exercising 


Against of weapons? I pass over the fear they be in; I 
War speak not of the imminent danger and peril that 
hangeth over their heads: for what thing in war is 
not to be feared? What is he that can reckon all 
the incommodious life that the most foolish sol- 
diers suffer in the field? And for that worthy to 
endure worse, in that they will suffer it willingly. 
Their meat is so ill that an ox of Cyprus would be 
loath to eat it; they have but little sleep, nor yet 
that at their own pleasure. Their tents on every 
side are open on the wind. What, a tent? No, no; 
they must all the day long, be it hot or cold, wet 
or dry, stand in the open air, sleep on the bare 
ground, stand in their harness. They must suffer 
hunger, thirst, cold, heat, dust, showers; they must 
be obedient to their captains; sometimes they be 
clapped on the pate with a warder or a truncheon : 
so that there is no bondage so vile as the bondage 
of soldiers. 

Besides all this, at the sorrowful sign given to 
fight, they must run headlong to death: for either 
they must slay cruelly, or be slain wretchedly. So 
many sorrowful labours must they take in hand, 
that they may bring to pass that thing which is 
most wretched of all other. With so many great 
miseries we must first afHidt and grieve our own 
self, that we may afHidt and grieve other! 

Now if we would call this matter to account, 
and justly reckon how much war will cost, and 
how much peace, surely we shall find that peace 


may be got and obtained with the tenth part Against 
of tlie cares, labours, griefs, perils, expenses, and War 
spilling of blood, with which the war is procured. 
So great a company of men, to their extreme 
perils, ye lead out of the realm to overthrow and 
destroy some one town: and with the labour of 
the selfsame men, and without any peril at all, an- 
other town, much more noble and goodly, might 
be new edified and builded. But you say, you 
will hurt and grieve your enemy: so even that 
doing is against humanity. Nevertheless, this I 
would ye should consider, that ye cannot hurt and 
grieve your enemies, but ye must first greatly 
hurt your own people. And it seemeth a point of 
a madman, to enterprise where he is sure and cer- 
tain of so great hurt and damage, and is uncer- 
tain which way the chance of war will turn. 

But admit, that either foolishness, or wrath, or 
ambition, or covetousness, or outrageous cruelty, 
or else (which I think more like) the furies sent 
from hell, should ravish and draw the heathen 
people to this madness. Yet from whence com- 
eth it into our minds, that one Christian man 
should draw his weapon to bathe it in another 
Christian man's blood? It is called parricide, if the 
one brother slay the other. And yet is a Christian 
man nearer joined to another than is one brother 
to another : except the bonds of niMiure be stronger 
than the bonds of Christ. What abominable thing, 
then, is it to see them almost continually fighting 


Against among themselves, the which are the inhabitants 
War of one house the Chiirch, which rejoice and say, 
that they all be the members of one body, and 
that have one head, which truly is Christ; they 
have all one Father in heaven; they are all taught 
and comforted by one Holy Spirit; they profess 
the religion of Christ all under one manner; they 
are all redeemed with Christ's blood ; they are all 
newborn at the holy font; they use alike sacra- 
ments; they be all soldiers under one captain; 
they are all fed with one heavenly bread ; they 
drink all of one spiritual cup ; they have one com- 
mon enemy the devil; finally, they be all called 
to one inheritance. Where be they so many sac- 
raments of perfedl concord ? Where be the innu- 
merable teachings of peace ? There is one special 
precept, which Christ called his, that is. Charity. 
And what thing is so repugnant to charity as 
war? Christ saluted his disciples with the blessed 
luck of peace. Unto his disciples he gave nothing 
save peace, saving peace he left them nothing. In 
those holy prayers, he specially prayed the Father 
of heaven, that in like manner as he was one with 
the Father, so all his, that is to say. Christian men, 
should be one with him. Lo, here you may per- 
ceive a thing more than peace, more than amity, 
more than concord. 

Solomon bare the figure of Christ: for Solomon 
in the Hebrew tongue signifieth peaceable or 
peaceful. Him God would have to build his tem- 


pie. At the birth of Christ the angels proclaimed Against 
neither war nor triumphs, but peace they sang. War 
And before his birth the prophet David prophe- 
sied thus of him: Et facftus est in pace locus ejus, 
that is to say. His dwelling place is made in peace. 
Search all the whole life of Christ, and ye shall 
never find thing that breathes not of peace, that 
signifieth not amity, that savoureth not of char- 
ity. And because he perceived peace could not 
well be kept, except men would utterly despise 
all those things for which the world so greedily 
fighteth, he commanded that we should of him 
learn to be meek. He calleth them blessed and 
happy that setteth naught by riches, for those he 
calleth poor in spirit. Blessed be they that de- 
spise the pleasures of this, world, the which he 
calleth mourners. And them blessed he calleth 
that patiently suffer themselves, to be put out of 
their possessions, knowing that here in this world 
they are but as outlaws ; and the very true country 
and possession of godly creatures is in heaven. He 
calleth them blessed which, deserving well of all 
men, are wrongfully blamed and ill afflicfted. He 
forbade that any man should resist evil. Briefly, as 
all his dodlrinecommandeth sufferance and love, 
so all his life teacheth nothing else but meek- 
ness. So he reigned, so he warred, so he overcame, 
so he triumphed. 

Now the apostles, that had sucked into them the 
pure spirit of Christ, and were blessedly drunk 


Against with that new must of the Holy Ghost, preached 
War nothing but meekness and peace. What do all the 
epistles of Paul sound in every place but peace, 
but long-sufFering, but charily? What speaketh 
Saint John, what rehearseth he so oft, but love ? 
What other thing did Peter ? What other thing did 
all the true Christian writers? From whence then 
Cometh all this tumult of wars amongst the chil- 
dren of peace ? Think ye it a fable, that Christ call- 
eth himself a vine tree, and his own the branches ? 
Who did ever see one branch fight with another? 
Is it in vain that Paul so oft wrote. The Church to 
be none other thing, than one body compacft to- 
gether of divers members, cleaving to one head, 
Christ? Whoever saw the eye fight with the hand, 
or the belly with the foot? In this universal body, 
compacft of all those unlike things, there is agree- 
ment. In the body of a beast, one member is in 
peace with another, and each member useth not 
the property thereto given for itself alone, but 
for the profit of all the other members. So that if 
there come any good to any one member alone, 
it helpeth all the whole body. And may the com- 
pacftion or knitting of Nature do more in the body 
of a beast, that shortly must perish, than the cou- 
pling of the Holy Ghost in the mystical and im- 
mortal body of the Church ? Do we to no purpose 
pray as taught by Christ : Good Lord, even as thy 
will is fulfilled in heaven, so let it be fulfilled in 
the earth ? In that city of heaven is concord and 


peace most perfecft. And Christ would have his Against 
Church to be none other than a heavenly peo- War 
pie in earth, as near as might be after the manner 
of them that are in heaven, ever labouring and 
making haste to go thither, and always having 
their mind thereon. 

Now go to, let us imagine, that there should 
come some new guest out of the lunar cities, 
where Empedocles dwelleth, or else out of the in- 
numerable worlds, that Democritus fabricated, in- 
to this world, desiring to know what the inha- 
bitants do here. And when he was instructed of 
everything, it should at last be told him that, be- 
sides all other, there is one creature marvellously 
mingled, of body like to brute beasts and of soul 
like unto God. And it should also be told him, 
that this creature is so noble, that though he be 
here an outlaw out of his own country, yet are 
all other beasts at his commandment, the which 
creature through his heavenly beginning inclin- 
eth alway to things heavenly and immortal. And 
that God eternal loved this creature so well, that 
whereas he could neither by the gifts of nature, 
nor by the strong reasons of philosophy attain 
unto that which he so fervently desired, he sent 
hither his only begotten son, to the intent to teach 
this creature a new kind of learning. Then as soon 
as this new guest had perceived well the whole 
manner of Christ's life and precepts, would de- 
sire to stand in some high place, from whence he 


Against might behold that which he had heard. And when 
War he should see all other creatures soberly live ac- 
cording to their kind, and, being led by the laws 
and course of nature, desire nothing but even as 
Nature would; and should see this one special 
creature man given riotously to tavem haunting, 
to vile lucre, to buying and selling, chopping and 
changing, to brawling and fighting one with an- 
other, trow ye that he would not think that any 
of the other creatures were man, of whom he 
heard so much of before, rather than he that is in- 
deed man ? Then if he that had instrucfted him 
afore would show him which creature is man, 
now would he look about to see if he could spy 
the Christian flock and company, the which, fol- 
lowing the ordinance of that heavenly teacher 
Christ, should exhibit to him a figure or shape 
of the evangelical city. Think ye he would not 
rather judge Christians to dwell in any other place 
than in those countries, wherein we see so great 
superfluity, riot, voluptuousness, pride, tyranny, 
discord, brawlings, fightings, wars, tumults, yea, 
and briefly to speak, a greater puddle of all those 
things that Christ reproveth than among Turks 
or Saracens? From whence, then, creepeth this 
pestilence in among Christian people? Doubtless 
this mischief also is come in by little and little, 
like as many more other be, ere men be aware of 
them. For truly every mischief creepeth by little 
and little upon the good manners of men, or else 


v^^lWfe ^* 

under the colour of goodness it is suddenly re- Against 
ceived. War 

So then first of all, learning and cunning crept in 
as a thing very meet to confound heretics, which 
defend their opinions with the docftrine of philo- 
sophers, poets, and orators. And surely at the be- 
ginning of our faith. Christian men did not learn 
those things; but such as perad venture had learn- 
ed them, before they knew what Christ meant, 
they turned the thing that they had learned al- 
ready, into good use. 

Eloquence of tongue was at the beginning dis- 
sembled more than despised, but at length it was 
openly approved. After that, under colour of con- 
founding heretics, came in an ambitious pleasure 
of brawling disputations, which hath brought in- 
to the Church of Christ no small mischief. At 
length the matter went so farforth that Aristotle 
was altogether received into the middle of divi- 
nity, and so received, that his authority is almost 
reputed holier than the authority of Christ. For if 
Christ spake anything that did little agree with 
our life, by interpretation of Aristotle it was law- 
ful to make it serve their purpose. But if any do 
never so little repugn against the high divinity 
of Aristotle, he is quickly with clapping of hands 
driven out of the place. For of him we have learn- 
ed, that the felicity of man is imperfecft, except he 
have both the good gifts of body and of fortune. 
Of him we have learned, that no commonweal 


Against may flourish, in which all things are common. 

War And we endeavour ourselves to glue fast together 
the decrees of this man and the docftrine of Christ 
^ which is as likely a thing as to mingle fire and 
water together. And a gobbet we have received 
of the civil laws, because of the equity that seem- 
eth to be in them. And to the end they should 
the better serve our purpose, we have, as near as 
may be, writhed and plied the docftrine of the 
gospel to them. Now by the civil law it is lawful 
for a man to defend violence with violence, and 
each to pursue for his right. Those laws approve 
buying and selling; they allow usury, so it be 
measurable; they praise war as a noble thing, so 
it be just. Finally all the docftrine of Christ is so 
defiled with the learning of logicians, sophisters, 
astronomers, orators, poets, philosophers, law- 
yers, and gentles, that a man shall spend the most 
part of his life, ere he may have any leisure to 
search holy scripture, to the which when a man 
at last Cometh, he must come infecfted with so 
many worldly opinions, that either^he must be 
offended with Christ's docftrines, or else he must 
apply them to the mind and of them that he hath 
learned before. And this thing is so much ap- 
proved, that it is now a heinous deed, if a man 
presume to study holy scripture, which hath not 
buried himself up to the hard ears in those trifles, 
or rather sophistries of Aristotle. As though Christ's 
docftrine were such, that it were not lawful for 


all men to know it, or else that it could by any Against 
means agree with the wisdom of philosophers. War 
Besides this we admitted at the beginning of our 
faith some honour, which afterward we claimed 
as of duty. Then we received riches, but that was 
to distribute to relieve poor men, which after- 
wards we turned to our own use. And why not, 
since we have learned by the law civil, that the 
very order of charity is, that every man must first 
provide for himself? Nor lack there colours to 
cloak this mischief: first it is a good deed to pro- 
vide for our children, and it is right that we fore- 
see how to live in age ; finally, why should we, say 
they, give our goods away, if we come by them 
without fraud ? By these degrees it is by little and 
little come to pass, that he is taken for the best 
man that hath most riches : nor never was there 
more honour given to riches among the heathen 
people, than is at this day among the Christian 
f)eopIe. For what thing is there, either spiritual 
or temporal, that is not done with great show of 
riches? And it seemed a thing agreeable with 
those ornaments, if Christian men had some great 
jurisdicftion under them. Nor there wanted not 
such as gladly submitted themselves. Albeit at 
thebeginning it was against their wills, and scantly 
would they receive it. And yet with much work, 
they received it so, that they were content with 
the name and title only : the profit thereof they 
gladly gave unto other men. At the last, little by 


Against little it came to pass, that a bishop thought him*- 
War self no bishop, except he had some temporal lord- 
ship withal; an abbot thought himself of small 
authority, if he had not wherewith to play the 
lordly sire. And in conclusion, we blushed never a 
deal at the matter, we wiped away all shame- 
fastness, and shoved aside all the bars of come- 
liness. And whatever abuse was used among the 
heathen people, were it covetousness, ambition, 
riot, pomp, or pride, or tyranny, the same we fol- 
low, in the same we match them, yea, and far pass 
them. And to pass over the lighter things for the 
while, I pray you, was there ever war among the 
heathen people so long continually, or more cru- 
elly, than among Christian people? What stormy 
rumblings, what violent brays of war, what tear- 
ing of leagues, and what piteous slaughters of men 
have we seen ourselves within these few years ? 
What nation hath not fought and skirmished 
with another? And then we go and curse the 
Turk; and what can be a more pleasant sight to 
the Turks, than to behold us daily each slaying 

Xerxes doted, when he led out of his own coun- 
try that huge multitude of people to make war 
upon the Greeks. Trow ye, was he not mad, 
when he wrote letters to the mountain called 
Athos, threatening that the hill should repent ex- 
cept it obeyed his lust? And the same Xerxes 
commanded also the sea to be beaten, because 


it was somewhat rough when he should have Against 
sailed over. War 

Who will deny but Alexander the Great was 
mad also ? He, the young god, wished that there 
were many worlds, the which he might conquer 
—so great a fever of vainglory had embraced his 
young lusty courage. And yet these same men, 
the which Seneca doubted not to call mad thieves, 
warred after a gentler fashion than we do ; they 
were more faithful of their promise in war, nor 
they used not so mischievous engines in war, nor 
such crafts and subtleties, nor they warred not for 
so light causes as we Christian men do. They re- 
joiced to advance and enrich such provinces as 
they had conquered by war; and the rude peo- 
ple, that lived like wild beasts without laws, learn- 
ing, or good manners, they taught them both civil 
conditions and crafts, whereby they might live 
like men. In countries that were not inhabited 
with people, they builded cities, and made them 
both fair and profitable. And the places that were 
not very sure, they fenced, for safeguard of the 
people, with bridges, banks, bulwarks; and with 
a thousand other such commodities they helped 
the life of man. So that then it was right expe- 
dient to be overcome. Yea, and how many things 
read we, that were either wisely done, or soberly 
spoken of them in the midst of their wars. As for 
those things that are done in Christian men's wars 
they are more filthy and cruel than is convenient 


Against here to rehearse. Moreover, look what was worst 
War in the heathen peoples* wars, in that we follow 
them, yea, we pass them. 

But now it is worth while to hear, by what means 
we maintain this our so great madness. Thus they 
reason: If it had not been lawful by no means to 
make war, surely God would never have been the 
author to the jews to make war against their ene- 
mies. Well said, but we must add hereunto, that 
the jews never made war among themselves, but 
against strangers and wicked men. We, Christian 
men, fight with Christian men. Diversity of reli- 
gion caused the jews tofight against their enemies : 
for their enemies worshipped not God as they did. 
We make war oftentimes for a little childish anger, 
or for hunger of money, or for thirst of glory, or 
else for filthymeed. The jews fought by the com- 
mandment of God ; we make war to avenge the 
grief and displeasureof our mind. And neverthe- 
less if men will so much lean to the example of 
the jews, why do we not then in like manner use 
circumcision ? Why do we not sacrifice with the 
blood of sheep and other beasts ? Why do we not 
abstain from swine's flesh ? Why doth not each of 
us wed many wives ? Since we abhor those things, 
why doth the example of war please us so much ? 
Why do we here follow the bare letter that kill- 
eth ? It was permitted the jews to make war, but 
so likewise as they were suffered to depart fi'om 
their wives, doubtless because of their hard and 


froward manners. But after Christ commanded Against 
the sword to be put up, it is unlawful for Christian War 
men to make any other war but that which is the 
fairest war of all, with the most eager and fierce 
enemies of the Church, with affecftion of money, 
with wrath, with ambition, with dread of dearfi. 
These be our Philistines, these be our Nabucho- 
donosors, these be our Moabites and Ammonites, 
with the which it behooveth us to have no truce. 
With these we must continually fight, until (our 
enemies being utterly vanquished) we may be in 
quiet, for except we may overcome them, there 
is no man that may attain to any true peace, nei- 
ther with himself, nor yet with no other. For this 
war alone is cause of true peace. He that over- 
Cometh in this battle, will make war with no man 
living. Nor I regard not the interpretation that 
some men make of the two swords, to signify 
either power spiritual or temporal. When Christ 
suffered' Peter to err purposely, yea, after he was 
commanded to put up his sword, no man should 
doubt but that war was forbidden, which before 
seemed to be lawful. But Peter (say they) fought. 
True it is, Peter fought; he was yet but a Jew, and 
had not the spirit of a very Christian man. He 
fought not for his lands, or for any such titles of 
lands as we do, nor yet for his own life, but for 
his Master's life. And finally, he fought, the which 
within a while after forsook his Master. Now if 
men will needs follow the example of Peter-that 


Against fought, why might they not as well follow the ex- 
War ample of him forsaking his Master? And though 
Peter through simple afFedlion erred, yet did his 
Master rebuke him. For else, if Christ did allow 
such manner of defence, as some most foolishly 
do interpret, why doth both all the life and doc- 
trine of Christ preach no other thing but suf- 
ferance ? Why sent he forth his disciples against 
tyrants, armed with nothing else but with a walk- 
ing-staff and a scrip ? If that sword, which Christ 
commanded his disciples to sell their coats to buy, 
be moderate defence against persecutors, like as 
some men do. not only wickedly but also blindly 
interpret, why did the martyrs never use that 
defence ? But (say they) the law of nature com- 
mandeth, it is approved by the laws, and allowed 
by custom, that we ought to put off from us vio- 
lence by violence, and that each of us should de- 
fend his life, and eke his money, when the money 
(as Hesiod saith) is as lief as the life. AH this I 
grant, but yet grace, the law of Christ, that is of 
more effedt than all these things, commandeth 
us, that we should not speak ill to them that speak 
shrewdly to us ; that we should do well to them 
that do ill to us, and to them that take away part 
of our possessions, we should give the whole ; and 
that we should also pray for them that imagine 
our death. But these things (say they) appertain 
to the apostles ; yea, they appertain to the uni- 
versal people of Christ, and to the whole body of 


>•* " v 

Christ's Church, that must needs be a whole and Against 
a perfecft body, although in its gifts one mem- War 
ber is more excellent than another. To them the 
docflrine of Christ appertaineth not, that hope not 
to have reward with Christ. Let them fight for 
money and for lordships, that laugh to scorn the 
saying of Christ: Blessed be the poor men in 
spirit ; that is to say, be they poor or rich, blessed 
be they that covet no riches in this world. They 
that put all their felicity in these riches, they 
fight gladly to defend their life; but they be those 
that understand not this life to be rather a death, 
nor they perceive not that everlasting life is pre- 
pared for good men. Now they lay against us di- 
vers bishops of Rome, the which have been both 
authors and abettors of warring. True it is, some 
such there have been, but they were of late, arid 
in such time as the docflrine of Christ waxed 
cold. Yea, and they be very few in comparison 
of the holy fathers that were before them, which 
with their writings persuade us to flee war. Why 
are these few examples most in mind ? Why 
turn we our eyes from Christ to men ? And why 
had we rather follow the uncertain examples, than 
the authority that is sure and certain ? For doubt- 
less the bishops of Rome were men. And it may 
be right well, that they were either fools or un- 
gracious caitiffs. And yet we find not that any of 
them approved that we should still continually 
war after this fashion as we do, which thing I could 


Against with arguments prove* if I listed to digress and 

War tarry thereupon. 

Saint Bernard praised warriors, but he so praised 
them, that he condemned all the manner of our 
warfare. And yet why should the saying of Saint 
Bernard, or the disputation of Thomas the Al- 
quine, move me rather than the dodtrine of Christ, 
which commandeth, that we should in no wise 
resist evil, specially under such manner as the 
common people do resist. 

But it is lawful (say they) that a transgressor be 
punished and put to death according to the laws : 
then is it not lawful for a whole country or city 
to be revenged by war ? What may be answered 
in this place, is longer than is convenient to reply. 
But this much will I say, there is a great difference. 
For the evil-doer, found faulty and convicfted, is 
by authority of the laws put to death. In war there 
is neither part without fault. Whereas one singu- 
lar man doth offend, the punishment falleth only 
on himself; and the example of the punishment 
doth good unto all others. In war the most part of 
the punishment and harm falls upon them that 
least deserve to be punished ; that is, upon hus- 
bandmen, old men, honest wives, young children, 
and virgins ; But if there may any commodity at all 
be gathered of this most mischievous thing, that 
altogether goeth to the behoof of certain most 
vengeable thieves, hired soldiers, and strong rob- 
bers, and perhaps to a few captains, by whose craft 


war was raised for that intent, and with which the Against 
matter goeth never better than when the com- War 
monweal is in most high jeopardy and peril to 
be lost. Whereas one is for his offence grievously 
punished, it is the wealthy warning of all other: 
but in war to the end to revenge the quarrel of 
one, or else peradventure of a few, we cruelly 
afflicfl and grieve many thousands of them that 
nothing deserved. It were better to leave the of- 
fence of a few unpunished than while we seek oc- 
casion to punish one or two, to bring into assured 
peril, and danger, both our neighbours and inno- 
cent enemies (we call them our enemies, though 
they never did us hurt) ; and yet are we uncertain, 
whether it shall fall on them or not, that we would 
have punished. It is better to let a wound alone, 
that cannot be cured without grievous hurt and 
danger of all the whole body, than go about to 
heal it. 

Now if any man will cry out and say : It were 
against all right, that he that ofFendeth should not 
be punished ; hereunto I answer, that it is much 
more against all right and reason, that so many 
thousands of innocents should be brought into 
extreme calamity and mischief without deserv- 
ing. Albeit nowadays we see, that almost all wars 
spring up I cannot tell of what titles, and of leagues 
between princes, that while they go about to 
subdue to their dominion some one town, they 
put in jeopardy all their whole empire. And yet 



Against within a while after, they sell or give away the 
W^r same town again, that they got with shedding of 
so much blood. 

Perad venture some man will say: Wouldst not 
have princes fight for their right? I know right 
well, it is not meet for such a man as I am, to dis- 
pute overboldly of princes' matters, and though 
I might do it without any danger, yet is it longer 
than is convenient for this place. But this much 
will I say : If each whatsoever title be a cause con- 
venient to go in hand with war, there is no man 
that in so great alterations of men's affairs, and in 
nation is there that hath not sometime been put 
out of their own country, and also have put other 
out ? How oft have people gone from one coun- 
try to another ? How oft have whole empires been 
translated from one to another either by chance 
or by league. Let the citizens of Padua claim now 
again in God's name the country of Troy for 
theirs, because Antenor was sometime a Trojan* 
Let the Romans now hardily claim again Africa 
and Spain, because those provinces were some- 
time under the Romans. We call that a dominion, 
which is but an administration. The power and 
authority over men, which be free by Nature, and 
over brute beasts, is not all one. What power and 
sovereignty soever you have, you have it by the 
consent of the people. And if I be not deceived, 
he that hath authority to give, hath authority to 


take away again. Will ye see how small a matter Against 
it is that we make all this tumult for? The strife War 
is not, whether this city or that should be obei- 
sant to a good prince, and not in bondage of a 
tyrant ; but whether Ferdinand or Sigismund hath 
the better title to it, whether that city ought to 
pay tribute to Philip or to King Louis. This is 
that noble right, for the which all the world is thus 
vexed and troubled with wars and manslaughter. 

Yet go to, suppose that this right or title be as • 
strong and of as great authority as may be ; sup- 
pose also there be no difference between a pri- 
vate field and a whole city ; and admit there be 
no difference between the beasts that you have 
bought with your money and rneri, which be not 
only free, but also true Christians : yet is it a point 
for a wise man to cast in his mind, whether the 
thing that you will war for, be of so great value, 
that it will recompense the exceedingly great 
harms and loss of your own people. If ye cannot 
do in every point as becometh a prince, yet at 
the leastways do as the merchantman doeth : he 
setteth naught by that loss, which he well percei v- 
eth cannot be avoided without a greater loss, and 
he reckoneth it a winning, that fortune hath been 
against him with his so little loss. Or else at the 
leastwise follow him, of whom there is a merry 
tale commonly told. 

There were two kinsmen at variance about di- 
viding of certain goods, and when they could by 

Against no means agree, they must go to law together. 
War that in conclusion the matter might be ended by- 
sentence of the judges. They got them attorneys, 
the pleas were drawn, men of law had the mat*- 
ter in hand, they came before the judges, the com- 
plaint was entered, the cause was pleaded, and 
so was the war begun between them. Anon one 
of them remembering himself, called aside his 
adversary to him and said on this wise: "First it 
were a great shame, that a little money should 
dissever us twain, whom Nature hath knit so near 
together. Secondly, the end of our strife is uncer- 
tain, no less than of war. It is in our hands to be- 
gin when we will, but not to make an end. All our 
strife is but for an hundred crowns, and we shall 
spend the double thereof upon notaries, upon 
promoters, upon advocates, upon attorneys, up- 
on judges, and upon judges' friends, if we try the 
law to the uttermost. We must wait upon these 
men, we must flatter and speak them fair, we must 
give them rewards. And yet I speak not of the 
care and thought, nor of the great labour and tra- 
vail, that we must take to run about here and 
there to make friends ; and which of us two that 
winneth the vicftory, shall be sure of more incom- 
modity than profit. Wherefore if we be wise, let us 
rather see to our own profit, and the money that 
shall be evil bestowed upon these bribers, let us 
divide it between us twain. And forgive you the 
half of that ye think should be your due, and I will 


_ J 

forgive as much of mine. And so shall we keep Against 
and preserve our friendship, which else is like to War 
perish, and we shall also eschew this great busi- 
ness, cost, and charge. If you be not content to 
forgo anything of your part, I commit the whole 
matter into your own hands ; do with it as you will. 
For I had liefer my friend had this money, than 
those insatiable thieves. Methinks I have gained 
enough, if I may save my good name, keep my 
friend, and avoid this unquiet and chargeable 
business." Thus partly the telling of the truth, and 
partly the merry conceit of his kinsman, moved 
the other man to agree. So they ended the mat- 
ter between themselves, to the great displeasure 
of the judges and servants, for they, like a sort of 
gaping ravens, were deluded and put beside their 

Let a prince therefore follow the wisdom of these 
two men, specially in a matter of much more dan- 
ger^ Nor let him not regard what thing it is that 
he would obtain, but what great loss of good 
things he shall have, in what great jeopardies he 
shall be, and what miseries he must endure, to 
come thereby. Now if a man will weigh, as it were 
in a pair of balances^ the commodities of war on 
the one side and the incommodities on the other 
side, he shall find that unjust peace is far better 
than righteous war. Why had we mther have war 
than peace? Who but a madman will angle with 
a golden fish-hook ? If ye see that the charges and 


Against expenses shall amount far above your gain, yea. 
War though all things go according to your mind, is 
it not better that ye forgo part of your right than 
to buy so little commodity with so innimierable 
mischiefs? I had liefer that any other man had the 
title, than I should win it with so great effusion 
of Christian men's blood. He (whosoever he be) 
hath now been many years in possession; he is 
accustomed to rule, his subjedts know him, he be^ 
haveth him like a prince ; and one shall come forth, 
who, finding an old title in some histories or in 
some blind evidence, will turn clean upside down 
the quiet state and good order of that common- 
weal. What availeth it with so great troubling 
to change any title, which in short space by one 
chance or other must go to another man ? Spe- 
cially since we might see, that no things in this 
world continue still in one state, but at the scom- 
ful pleasure of fortune they roll to and fro, as the 
waves of the sea. Finally, if Christian men can- 
not despise and set at naught these so light things, 
yet whereto need they by and by to run to arms? 
Since there be so many bishops, men of great 
gravity and learning; since there be so many ven- 
erable abbots ; since there be so many noble men 
of great age, whom long use and experience of 
things hath made right wise: why are not these 
trifling and childish quarrels of princes pacified 
and set in order by the wisdom and discretion of 
these men ? But they seem to make a very hon- 


est reason of war, which pretend as they would Against 
defend the Church: as though the people were ^^^ 
not the Church, or as though the Church of Christ 
was begun, augmented, and stablished with wars 
and slaughters, and not rather in spilling of the 
blood of martyrs, sufferance, and despising of this 
life, or as though the whole dignity of the Church 
rested in the riches of the priests. Nor to me truly 
it seemeth not so allowable, that we should so oft 
make war upon the Turks. Doubtless it were not 
well with the Christian religion, if the only safe- 
guard thereof should depend on such succours. 
Nor it is not likely, that they should be good Chris- 
tians, that by these means are brought thereto at 
the first. For that thing that is got by war, is again 
in another time lost by war. Will ye bring the 
Turks to the faith of Christ ? Let us not make a 
show of our gay riches, nor of our great number 
of soldiers, nor of our great strength. Let them see 
in us none of these solemn titles, but the assured 
tokens of Christian men: a pure, innocent life; a 
fervent desire to do well, yea, to our very ene- 
mies; the despising of money, the neglecfting of 
glory, a poor simple life. Let them hear the heav- 
enly dodlrine agreeable to such a manner of life. 
These are the best armours to subdue the Turks 
to Christ. Now oftentimes we, being ill, fight 
with the evil. Yea, and I shall say another thing 
(which I would to God were more boldly spo- 
ken than truly), if we set aside the title and sign 

Against of the Cross, we fight Turks against Turks. If our 
War religion were first stablished by the might and 
strength of men of war, if it were confirmed by 
dint of sword, if it were augmented by war, then 
let us maintain it by the same means and ways. 
But if all things in our faith were brought to pass 
by other means, why do we, then (as we mis- 
trusted the help of Christ), seek such succour as 
the heathen people use? But why should we not 
(say they) kill them that would kill us ? So think 
they it a great dishonour, if other should be more 
mischievous than they. Why do ye not, then, rob 
those that have robbed you before? Why do ye 
not scold and chide at them that rail at you ? Why 
do ye not hate them that hate you? Trow ye it 
is a good Christian man's deed to slay a Turk ? 
For be the Turks never so wicked, yet they are 
men, for whose salvation Christ suffered death. 
And killing Turks we offer to the devil most plea- 
sant sacrifice, and with that one deed we please 
our enemy, the devil, twice: first because a man 
is slain, and again, because a Christian man slew 
him. There be many, which desiring to seem good 
Christian men, study to hurt and grieve the Turks 
all that ever they may; and where they be not 
able to do anything, they curse and ban, and bid a 
mischief upon them. Now by the same one point 
a man may perceive, that they be far from good 
Christian men. Succour the Turks, and where 
they be wicked, make them good if ye can; if ye 


cannot, wish and desire of God they may have Against 
grace to turn to goodness. And he that thus doeth. War 
I will say doeth like a Christian man. But of all 
these things I shall entreat more largely, when I 
set forth my book entitled Antipolemus, which 
whilom when I was at Rome I wrote to Julius, 
bishop of Rome, the second of that name, at the 
same time, when he was counselled to make war 
on the Venetians. 

But there is one thing which is more to be la- 
mented then reasoned: That if a man would dili- 
gently discuss the matter, he shall find that all 
the wars among us Christian men do spring either 
of foolishness, or else of malice. Some young men 
without experience, inflamed with the evil ex- 
amples of their forefathers, that they find by 
reading of histories, written of some foolish au- 
thors (and besides this being moved with the 
exhortations of flatterers, with the instigation of 
lawyers, and assenting thereto of the divines, the 
bishops winking thereat, or peradventure enti- 
cing thereunto), have rather of foolhardiness than 
of malice, gone in hand with war; and with the 
greathurtanddamageof all this world they learn, 
that war is a thing that should be by all means 
and ways fled and eschewed. Some other are 
moved by privy hatred, ambition causeth some, 
and some are stirred by fierceness of mind to 
make war. For truly there is almost now no other 
thing in our cities and commonweals than is con- 

57 . 

Against tained in Homer's work Iliad, The wrath of indis- 

War creet princes and people. 

There be those who for no other cause stir up 
war but to the intent they may by that means 
the more easily exercise tyranny on their sub- 
jedls. For in the time of peace, the authority of the 
council, the dignity of the rulers, the vigour and 
strength of the laws, do somewhat hinder, that a 
prince cannot do all that him listeth ; but as soon 
as war is once begun, now all the handling of mat- 
ters resteth in the pleasure of a few persons. They 
that the prince favoureth are lifted up aloft, and 
they that be in his displeasure, go down. They ex- 
ac5l as much money as pleaseth them. What need 
many words ? Then they think themselves, that 
they be the greatest princes of the world. In the 
meantime the captains sport and play together, 
till they have gnawed the poor people to the hard 
bones. And think ye that it will grieve them, that 
be of this mind, to enter lightly into war, when 
any cause is offered ? Besides all this, it is worth 
while to see by what means we colour our fault. I 
pretend the defence of our religion, but my mind 
is to get the great riches that the Turk hath. Under 
colour to defend the Church's right, I purpose to 
revenge the hatred that I have in my stomach. I 
incline to ambition, I follow my wrath ; my cruel, 
fierce and unbridled mind compelleth me; and 
yet will I find a cavillation and say, the league 
is not kept, or friendship is broken, or something 


(I wot not what myself) concerning the laws Against 
of matrimony is omitted. And it is a wonder to War 
speak, how they never obtain the very thing that 
they so greatly desire. And while they foolishly 
labour to eschew this mischief or that, they fall 
into another much worse, or else deeper into the 
same. And surely if desire of glory causeth them 
thus to do, it is a thing much more magnificent and 
glorious to save than to destroy; much more gay 
and goodly to build a city than to overthrow and 
destroy a city. 

Furthermore admit that the vicftory in battle is 
got most prosperously, yet how small a portion 
of the glory shall go imto the prince: the com- 
mons will claim a great part of it, by the help 
of whose money the deed was done; foreign sol- 
diers, that are hired for money, will challenge 
much more than the commons; the captains look 
to have very much of that glory; and fortune has 
the most of all, which striking a great stroke in 
every matter, in war may do most of all. If it come 
of a noble courage or stout stomach, that you be 
moved to make war : see, I pray you, how far wide 
ye be from your purpose. For while ye will not 
be seen to bow to one man, as to a prince your 
neighbour, peradventure of your alliance, who 
may by fortune have done you good : how much 
more abjedtly must ye bow yourself, what time 
ye seek aid and help of barbarous people; yea, 
and, what is more unworthy, of such men as are 


Against defiled with all mischievous deeds, if we must 
War needs call such kind of monsters men? Meanwhile 
ye go about to allure tmto you with fair words 
and promises, ravishers of virgins and of refigious 
women, men-killers, stout robbers and rovers (for 
these be thy special men of war). And while you 
labour to be somewhat cruel and superior over 
your equal, you are constrained to submit your- 
selves to the very dregs of all men living. And 
while ye go about to drive your neighbour out 
of his land, ye must needs first bring into your 
own land the most pestilent puddle of unthrifts 
that can be. You mistrust a prince of your own 
alliance, and will you commit yourself wholly to 
an armed multitude? How much surer were it 
to commit yourself to concord 1 

If ye will make war because of lucre, take your 
counters and cast. And I will say, it is better to 
have war than peace, if ye find not, that not 
only less, but also uncertain winning is got with 
inestimable costs. 

Ye say ye make war for the safeguard of the 
commonweal, yea, but noway sooner nor more 
unthriftily may the commonweal perish than by 
war. For before ye enter into the field, ye have 
already hurt more your country than ye can do 
good getting the vicftory. Ye waste the citizens' 
goods, ye fill the houses with lamentation, ye fill 
all the country with thieves, robbers, and ravish- 
ers. For these are the relics of war. And whereas 


before ye might have enjoyed all France, ye shut Against 
yourselves from many regions thereof. If ye love War 
your own subjecfts truly, why revolve you not in 
mind these words: Why shall I put so many, in 
their lusty, flourishing youth, in all mischiefs and 
perils ? Why shall I depart so many honest wives 
and their husbands, and make so many father- 
less children? Why shall I claim a title I know 
not, and a doubtful right, with spilling of my sub- 
jecfts' blood ? We have seen in our time, that in 
war made under colour of defence of the Church, 
the priests have been so often pillaged with con- 
tributions, that no enemy might do more. So that 
while we go about foolishly to escape falling in the 
ditch, while we cannot sufFera light injury, we af- 
flicft ourselves with most grievous despites. While 
we be ashamed of gentleness to bow to a prince, 
we be fain to please people most base. While we 
indiscreetly covet liberty, we entangle ourselves 
in most grievous bondage. While we hunt after a 
little lucre, we grieve ourselves and ours with ines- 
timable harness. It had been a point of a prudent 
Christian man (if he be a true Christian man) by all 
manner of means to have fled, to have shunned, 
and by prayer to have withstood so fiendish a 
thing, and so far both from the life and dodlrine 
of Christ. But if it can by no means be eschewed, 
by reason of the ungraciousness of many men, 
when ye have essayed every way, and that ye 
have for peace sake left no stone unturned, then 


Against the next way is, that ye do your diligence that so 
War ill a thing may be gested and done by them that 
be evil, and that it be achieved with as little effu- 
sion of man's blood as can be. 

Now if we endeavour to be the selfsame thing 
that we hear ourselves called,^ that is, good Chris- 
tian men,— we shall little esteem any worldly 
thing, nor yet ambitiously covet anything of this 
world. For if we set all our mind, that we may 
lightly and purely part hence; if we incline whol- 
ly to heavenly things; if we pitch all our felicity 
in Christ alone; if we believe all that is truly 
good, truly gay and glorious, truly joyful, to re- 
main in Christ alone ; if we thoroughly think that a 
godly man can of no man be hurt; if we ponder 
how vain and vanishing are the scornful things of 
this world; if we inwardly behold how hard a 
thing it is for a man to be in a manner transformed 
into a god, and so here, with continual and inde- 
fatigable meditation, to be purged from all infec- 
tions of this world, that within a while the husk of 
this body being cast off, it may pass hence to the 
company of angels; finally,ifwesurelyhavethese 
three things, without which none is worthy of the 
nante of a Christian man, — Innocency, that we 
may be pure from all vices ; Charity, that we may 
do good, as near as we can, to every man; Pa- 
tience, that we may suffer them that do us ill, and, 
if we can, with good deeds overcome wrongs to us 
done : I pray you, what war can there be among 


us for trifles? If it be but a tale that is told of Against 
Christ, why do we not openly put him out of our ^^^ 
company ? Why should we glory in his title? But 
if he be, as he is in very deed, the true way, the 
very truth, and the very life, why doth all the 
manner of our living differ so far asunder from 
the trueexampleof him ? If we acknowledge and 
take Christ for our author, which is very Charity, 
and neither taught nor gave other thing but cha- 
rity and peace, then go to, let us not in titles and 
signs, but in our deeds and living, plainly express 
him. Let us have in our hearts a fervent desire of 
peace, that Christ may again know us for his. To 
this intent the princes, the prelates, and the cities 
and commonalties should apply their counsels. 
There hath been hitherto enough spilt of Christian 
man's blood. We have showed pleasure enough 
to the enemies of the Christian religion. And if the 
common people, as they are wont, make any dis- 
turbance, let the princes bridle and quail them, 
which princes ought to be the selfsame thing in 
the commonweal that the eye is in the body, and 
the reason in the soul. Again, if the princes make 
any trouble, it is the part of good prelates by their 
wisdom and gravity to pacify and assuage such 
commotion. Or else, at the least, we being satiate 
with continual wars, let the desire of peace a little 
move us. The bishop exhorteth us (if ever any 
bishop did Leo the Tenth doth, which occupieth 
the room of our peaceable Solomon, for all his de- 


Against sire, all his intent and labour, is for this intent) that 
War they whom one common faith hath coupled to- 
gether, should be joined in one common concord. 
He laboureth that the Church of Christ should 
flourish, not in riches or lordships, but in her own 
proper virtues. Surely this is a right goodly ac5l, 
and well beseeming a man descended of isuch a 
noble lineage as the Medici : by whose civil pru- 
dence the noble city of Florence most freshly 
flourished in long-continued peace; whose house 
of Medici hath been a help unto all good letters. 
Leo himself, having alway a sober and a gentle 
wit,giving himself from his tender youth to good 
letters of humanity, was ever brought up, as it 
were, in the lap of the Muses, among men most 
highly learned. He so faultless led his life, that 
even in the city of Rome, where is most liberty 
of vice, was of him no evil rumour, and so gov- 
erning himself came to the dignity to be bishop 
there, which dignity he never coveted, but was 
chosen thereto when he least thought thereon, 
by the provision of God to help to redress things 
in great decay by long wars. Let Julius the bishop 
have his glory of war, victories, and of his great 
triumphs, the which howevil they beseemaChris- 
tian bishop, it is not for such a one as I am to de- 
clare. I will this say, his glory, whatsoever it be, 
was mixed with the great destrudlion and grie- 
vous sorrow of many a creature. But by peace re- 
stored now to the world, Leo shall get more true 


glory than Julius won by so many wars that he Against 
either boldly begun, or prosperously fought and War 

But they that had liefer hear of proverbs, than 
either of peace or of war, will think that I have 
tarried longer about this digression than is meet 
for the declaration of a proverb. 















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